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[Separate No. 15 

Chapters in Fox River Valley History 

I. William Powell's Recollections 
II. Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River, bv 
John Wallace Arndt 

? rom the Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin for 
19 1 2, pages 146-220] 


Published for the Society 

[Separate No. 152] 

Chapters in Fox River Valley Historv 

I. William Powell's Recollections 
[I. Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River, by 
John Wallace Arndt 

From the Proceedings o; the State Histonca. Society of Wisconsin for 
1912, pages 146-220] 

Published rbr the Societv 

IQl 1 

William Powell's Recollections 

In an Interview with Lyman C. Draper 1 

Peter Powell, 2 my father, was horn in England in 1778. Com- 
ing to what is now Wisconsin in ]800, he engaged in the Indian 
trade, his earliest post being at "White Rapids on Menominee 
River, about eighty miles from Green Bay; he made his returns 
at Mackinac and passed his summers at Green Bay settlement. 
At lirst he was a clerk for Jacob Franks, 3 but afterwards en- 

1 In the Society's annual report for 1878 (Wis. Hist. Colls., viii, p. 
53) is the following: "The secretary, during the past year, * * * 
made a visit to Capt. Win. Powell, of Shawano County, a native o: 
Wisconsin, now bordering closely on three score and ten, and inti- 
mately connected with the Menomonees and other Wisconsin tribes 
since 1819, and noted down a lengthy statement of his dictation, em- 
bracing his recollections of the Menomonees and their prominent 
Chiefs, Col. Robert Dickson, the British leader of the Northwestern In- 
dian tribes during the War of 1812-15, and the derivation and meaning 
of many Indian geographical names in Wisconsin having a Menomonee 
origin." The interview which Doctor Draper took down in notes at 
the time, has ever since remained only in manuscript. In editing this 
document for the present publication, we have combined therewith a 
letter written by William Powell some years later to the present Edi- 
tor, detailing some additional facts in the lives of both father and son. 
In working both sources into a connected narrative, we have made only 
such changes as involved re-arranging the material and improving the 
phraseology of necessary points. It is believed that Powell's Recollec- 
tions, while not as valuable as those of Augustin Grignon, published in 
Wis. Hist. Colls., iii, will prove an authoritative and substantial contri- 
bution to early Wisconsin history. — Ed. 

'The brief sketch of Peter Powell in Wis. Hist. Colls., xix, p. SS8, 
was written before this manuscript came to light. — Ed. 

"For a Bketch of this trader see Id, xviii, p. 463, note 85.— Ed. 


D. 0F0, :. 
MAR 25 1918 

William Powell (1810-1885) 
Enlarged from photograph in possession of the Society 

Powell's Recollections 

gaged in trade for himself. My mother was Mary Jeffrey, a native 
of Green Bay, and half Menominee. Her father was an English- 
man, and her mother belonged to the family of chief Oshkosh. 
My father and mother were married at Mackinac in 1802. They 
had a family of eight, five sons and three daughters, of which 
there are only myself and a younger brother now (1877) living. 
I was the fourth child and was born near Death's Door at the 
entrance to Green Bay. My father was returning from Mack- 
inac to Green Bay with my mother — he had taken her with him 
to Mackinac when he went after his goods ; she was taken sick en 
route, and I was born the twenty-fifth of September, 1810. 

My father was with Colonel McKay at the capture of Prairie 
du Chien. 4 In August, 1819 [July, 1818], 5 Col. Robert Dickson, 6 
formerly Indian agent for the British in the War of 1812, vis- 
ited Green Bay, and advised my father to go to Pembina to 
trade, saying that he was British agent there, 7 and would do 
what he could to favor his interests. 

In company with Dickson we started from Green Bay in a 
bark canoe, hiring four French voyageurs and a hunter to kill 
game en route, as we could not carry provisions enough to last 
during the trip. We coasted Lake Michigan to Mackinac and 
up Sault St. Mary River into Lake Superior, coasted that lake 
and through the Lake [of the] Woods and Lake Winnipeg, 
thence up Red River to Pembina settlement, arriving at that 

4 For a history of the expedition see Id, xi, pp. 254-270; xiii, pp. 1-14; 
and post. A sketch of McKay is in Id, xix, p. 365, note 12. — Ed. 

* In his interview with Draper, Powell told him that they left for the 
Red River country in August, 1819. In the letter written later, how- 
ever, he gave the date as July, 1818. In the light of his further state- 
ments and of other corroborating evidence, it seems probable that the 
latter was the correct date. — Ed. 

•Dickson's career is sketched in Id, xii, pp. 133-153; additional facts 
are found in Id, xix, xx, passim. — Ed. 

T Dickson was, in fact, agent for Lord Selkirk, and aiding him In hia 
plans for settling the Red River country. About this time Dickson 
was urging all the prominent traders at Green Bay — Porlier, Lawe, and 
the Grignons — to remove to Red River and take with them the Menom- 
inee tribesmen. See documenth in Id. xx, passim. Apparently Pow- 
ell was the only one of the old British traders who acceded to Dick- 
son's request. — Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

place the last of September. There father engaged in the Indian 
trade, having purchased his goods from the Hudson 's Bay Com- 
pany ; remained there three years ; each spring he went to Hud- 
son Bay with his furs and returned in the fall with his goods. 

At the expiration of the three years he started back for Green 
Bay with his family, by a land route to the headwaters of 
Minnesota River. Late in November of 1821, we arrived at Lake 
Traverse, at a trading post then kept by Mr. Joseph D'Raville, 8 
who was employed by the Hudson's Bay Company, and we 
passed the winter at that place. A short time after we arrived 
at Lake Traverse a man came there from Illinois, by the name 
of Dixson, 9 with a drove of cattle, on his way to Pembina set- 
tlement; but as winter commenced setting in he was obliged to 
remain there. During the winter he lost more than half of his 
cattle, killed by wolves and Sioux Indians. 

In the spring of 1822 my father sold his carts and horses to 
Mr. D'Raville and bought two dugouts large enough to carry 
his family and his goods, descended Minnesota River to its 
mouth, 10 which emptied into the Mississippi about six miles 

• This was Joseph Renville, a Dakota half-breed who was born near 
St. Paul about 1779. Educated in Canada, he early entered Dickson's 
employ and was interpreter and guide for Pike in 1805-06 and for 
Major Long in 1823. He served in the War of 1812-15 as captain in 
the British Indian department under Dickson, and afterwards received 
a pension. About 1819 he gave up this pension, became an American 
citizen, and in 1822 was one of the founders of the Columbia Fur Com- 
pany. When this corporation was sold (1827) to the American Fur 
Company, he retired to Lac qui Parle and there died in 1846. A Minne- 
sota county bears his name. See fuller biographical sketch in Wis. 
Hist. Colls., xx. — Ed. 

"On a map published in 1838 by Judson, of the territory west of the 
Mississippi, is traced a route from Des Moines River to Lake Traverse, 
marked "McKnight and Dixon's route, 1822." This no doubt refers to 
the cattle train here noted. Alexander Ross, Red River Settlement 
(London, 1856), p. 73, mentions the arrival in 1822 of a herd of 300 
cattle that sold for good prices — the first, he says, that came to the 
colony. — Ed. 

10 In the Society's Wisconsin Mss., 10B28, is a letter from Peter Pow- 
ell to John Lawe, dated Lake de Traverse, March 14, 1822. After 
speaking of the state of things in the Red River country, Powell con- 


Powell's Recollections 

above St. Paul. That summer my father with all his family, 
except myself, arrived at Green Bay. He left me with Capt. 
William Alexander of the Fifth Regiment, U. S. A., who was 
stationed at Fort Snelling. 11 I was to stay with him until my 
father should send for me, in order to go to the school which 
was kept in the garrison for the officers' children. 

Soon after my father returned to Green Bay he again en- 
gaged in the Indian trade. His wintering places were up the 
Mississippi, also up Minnesota River as far as the Blue Earth, 
which empties into it thirty to forty miles above St. Paul. In 
the spring he made his returns with his furs at Mackinac. In 
1826 he stopped buying his goods from the American Fur Com- 
pany and bought them from Daniel Whitney of Green Bay, 12 
who was the only man in the Western Department who dared 
to oppose John Jacob Astor in the Indian trade. In the spring 
of 1827 my father built a log house on Lake Butte des Morts and 
left his family at thai place while he wintered at his trading 
post; returning in the spring he passed the summer with his 
family at Butte des Morts. That place continued to be his home 
till his death in September, 1837. My mother survived him 
several years, was remarried, and died at Green Bay in the 
summer of 1844. 

The French and Fox War 13 

From Iometah, Oshkosh, and other aged Menominee, I learned 
that the Sauk and Foxes once had a town at Red Banks; later 
they removed to Green Bay and got into trouble with the French 

tinues thus: "there is no prospect of doing anything in this Country. 
I have past a Miserable winter for starvation. I intend to pass the 
Spring a Hunting then go down to the Entry of St. Peters this Sum- 
mer. * * * I am now much distressed, my family are Quite naked 
& on the point of Starving." — Ed. 

"Alexander was at this time lieutenant in the 5th Infantry. H« 
was from Tennessee, entered the regular army in 1820, was promoted to 
a captaincy in 1836, and died two years later. — Ed. 

"For a sketch of this early Green Bay merchant, see Wis. Hist. 
Colls., xii, p. 274, note 3.— Ed. 

13 See Louise P. Kellogg, "Fox Indian Wars," in Wis. Hist. Soc. 
Proceedings, 1907, pp. 142-188.— Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

and were made to retire to Little Butte des Morts — now Neenah. 
Here they exacted tribute in the following way: some of their 
leaders would post themselves on either side of the stream with 
a long pole, held up and leaning over the water, indicating that 
the trader's boats must heave to, and pay tribute before pro- 
ceeding farther. Getting tired of these exactions, the French 
got up an expedition and drove them off from Little Butte des 
Morts. The Sauk and Foxes then retired to Big Butte des 
Morts and at that point renewed their exactions in the same 
way. At this time there was a Menominee who had married a 
Sauk wife. The French and Menominee at Green Bay prevailed 
on him to go to the Sauk and report some pitiful story of bad 
treatment on the part of his people as a reason why he had re- 
tired to Big Butte des Morts to make his future home with his 
wife's people; and to report also that there were some traders' 
boats soon coming up, upon which they could levy rich tribute. 
In time the flotilla appeared in sight, each canoe covered 
with an oilcloth over a ridge-pole, like a roof. Beneath this were 
a body of armed French, while a large body of Menominee and 
Chippewa marched up the river by land. As soon as the fleet 
hove in sight of the town, the Menominee spy quietly and un- 
noticed took his departure, and apprised his countrymen whom 
he soon met, that the boats were nearing the Sauk and Fox vil- 
lage. Thereupon they hastened and crept into the rear of the 
place. As the boats came up, and the tribute poles were posted, 
the French made for the town landing, and the people rushed 
down to see and meet them. Then the boat coverings were sud- 
denly thrown off, and the soldiers fired on the Sauk and Fox 
assemblage, who as they fled back to their houses to get their 
weapons, were met by the Menominee and Chippewa in the rear, 
and soon overpowered. Some fled to "Winneconne, about three 
miles distant, where many were overtaken and killed. There 
their bones were left to bleach upon the ground, hence the name 
— Winneconne, ' ' the place of skulls. ' ' Thus the Sauk and Foxes 
were again driven westward, up the Fox and down the "Wiscon- 
sin. A part of them went up to Puckaway and Buffalo lakes, 
and settled there ; the rest settled at Sauk Prairie on the Wiscon- 
sin, where subsequently they w-ere joined by the others. 


Powell's Recollections 

War of 1 8 12-15 

Chicago Massacre, 1812: Souligny related to me that a 
splendid-looking woman (who proved to have been an officer's 
wife), refused to surrender after the Indians attacked the re- 
treating garrison. She stood up in a wagon and defended her- 
self with her sword, cut and slashed with it, and perhaps 
wounded an Indian or two, when the Indians, who would have 
preserved her life, felt constrained to shoot her. Souligny spoke 
of her long, handsome, flowing hair. He likewise referred to 
her heroism in sacrificing her life rather than yield herself up 
a prisoner to the Indians. Such an act naturally attracted the 
attention of the w T arriors. 14 

Indians under Dickson. During 1812-13 Col. Robert Dick- 
son wintered in a nice piece of timber on the west side of Lake 
Winnebago, between Garlic Island and Neenah — about half 
way between the Island and Neenah. He reached there late in 
1812 with a large supply of British presents for the Indians, 
which he distributed liberally ; and then the Indians retired for 
their winter's hunt, being admonished to meet him early in the 
spring to go upon the warpath. 15 They assembled in large 
numbers and received numerous presents and supplies ; but at 
Mackinac a large portion of them backed out and returned home, 
so Souligny and others related, conveying the idea that only the 
boldest and bravest kept on. 

At Fort Meigs, Souligny first met Tecumseh, shook hands with 
him, and represented that he regarded it as an honor to have 
met and fought by the side of so noted and brave a man. 
Tecumseh was tall, fully six feet, and well-formed. Arrived at 
Fort Meigs, they drew a party of Americans into an ambuscade 

14 Probably this was Mrs. Corbin, wife of a sergeant. Mrs. Kinzie in 
Wauban (Caxton ed., 1901), p. 178, refers to her heroism. She also 
narrates the resistance of a Mrs. Holt, who hacked and cut with her 
husband's sword; but she was on horseback, not in a wagon; and 
moreover she was ultimately saved from death. — Ed. 

15 See Dickson papers in Wis. Hist. Colls., xi, pp. 271-315; xix, pp. 
344-346. In xi, p. 278, Dickson dates his letter from Garlic Island, 
which would seem to indicate that he wintered thereon, not on the 
mainland. Arndt, post, also locates Dickson on the island. — Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

[Colonel Dudley's party], 16 but after that failed to make any 
impression on the fort, only now and then picking off some of 
the sentinels. Finally as a last resort, Tecumseh formed the 
novel idea of the pretended fight in the woods — as if the In- 
dians were encountering an American reinforcement — expecting 
the garrison would hasten out to the relief of their supposed 
friends. But General Harrison was too wary to be caught in 
a.ny such trap. 17 During the siege two Menominee were cap- 
tured by some American Shawnee, but managed to escape. Be- 
coming discouraged, the British Indians wanted to go home, 
when Colonel Dickson and the British leaders, to divert their 
attention, led them against Sandusky. There the Indians picked 
off some of the Americans going for water ; but after the I ritish 
repulse, all retired. 18 

There probably were no Menominee at the taking of Detroit, 
or at the River Raisin. Souligny and others spoke as though 
their first service was when Dickson embodied them and led 
them to Fort Meigs and Sandusky. 

Mackinac in 1814. There lived for many years a very aged 
Winnebago chief, called Caramaunee, at a little village composed 
of only three or four bark lodges belonging to himself and his 
sons-in-law, located about two miles east of what is since called 
Waukau. [Captain Powell suggests that this may be a slight 
change or corruption for Nahkaw]. 19 East of Fox River, about 
two miles above Omro, is Delhi. Some two miles back [south] 
east of Delhi was Waukau, on the old Fort Winnebago trail 
from Green Bay to the Fox-Wisconsin portage. About two 
miles east [south] of Waukau, on the west bank of [the outlet 
of] Rush or Mud Lake, near the centre of the stream, was Car- 

18 The interpolation is probably that of Dr. Draper, explaining Pow- 
ell's reference to an ambuscade. For a brief account of the siege of 
Fort Meigs and Dudley's defeat (May 5, 1813) see C. P. Lucas, The 
Canadian War of 1812 (Oxford, 1906), pp. 75-77.— Ed. 

17 Reference is here made to the second siege of Fort Meigs in July; 
see Ibid, p. 78. — Ed. 

18 This relates to the siege of Fort Stephenson, Aug. 1 and 2 ; Ibid. 
pp. 78, 79— Ed. 

u Nahkaw was the Indian form of Caramaunee's name; see Wis. Hist. 
Colls., v, p. 181, note.— Ed. 


Powell's Recollections 

amaunee's village. 20 He was a. large, square-shouldered, stout 
man, not very tall, but with a powerful frame and long face. 
While his people were generally regarded as unreliable and 
thievish, Caramaunee bore a most excellent character, was liked 
by all traders, and was friendly to the whites. "When I saw 
him last, about 1830, he seemed nearly a hundred years of age. 
He said he was out with Colonel Dickson in the War of 1812, 
went with the Menominee to Sandusky, and was at Mackinac 
when Major Holmes" 1 was shot by L'Espagnol. 

Caramaunee and L'Espagnol both gave me the following ac- 
count of the battle on Mackinac Island. 22 When the Americans 
landed, the Indians and most of the garrison went out to way- 
lay them. The Indians hid behind rocks and boulders on either 
side of the anticipated route, while the English with cannon 
were in the rear towards the fort to draw the Americans forward 
into the net or trap. While in waiting, the few whites left in 
the fort got alarmed, thought the Americans were approaching 
in their rear, and sent a messenger in great haste to notify those 
in front ; whereupon nearly all the Indians fled to the rear, ex- 

20 Publius V. Lawson, Winnebago County (Chicago, 1908), i, p. 308, 
says that there was a village at the outlet of Rush Lake as late as 1846. 
According to John T. La Ronde, Wis. Hist. Colls., vii, p. 350, Caramau- 
nee had by 1828 removed to the Baraboo River. — Ed. 

21 Maj. Andrew Hunter Holmes entered the regular army from Missis- 
sippi at the outbreak of the war, and was assigned as captain of the 
24th Infantry. In March, 1814, he distinguished himself in a skirmish 
on the River Thames, Ontario, where he defeated a British force su- 
perior in numbers to his own. For this success he was promoted to the 
rank of major, and assigned to a part in the recovery of Mackinac. He 
was killed Aug. 4, 1814, and after the recovery of his body, buried at 
Detroit. The fort on the highest point of Mackinac Island was subse- 
quently, in his honor, named Fort Holmes. — Ed. 

22 The expedition to recapture Mackinac was undertaken against the 
judgment of the American officers of the Western department, but it 
was ordered from Washington. The fleet was commanded by Commo- 
dore Sinclair; the land forces by Col. George Croghan. Landing on the 
west side of the island, the Americans advanced (Aug. 4, 1814), against 
the British who had thrown up rude fortifications. The death of 
Holmes threw the advance into confusion, whereupon retreat to the 
ships was ordered. — Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

pecting to encounter the Americans there; but it proved to be 
a false alarm. 

L'Espagnol and his nephew, the Yellow Dog (Oshawwah- 
nem), 23 remained in their places of secretion. Oshawwahnem 
said "Uncle, let us go with the others." "No," said L'Espag- 
nol, "I shall remain; if you wish to go, you can; but you 
ought to show proper respect for your uncle by standing by 
him. ' ' Soon they saw the Americans approaching by the route 
along which they were originally expected, with the officers and 
a small bodyguard in front. The dress of one officer was 
thickly covered with silver lace, upon which the sun sbone and 
reflected brilliantly. Supposing this to be the principal officer, 
the young nephew asked of his uncle the privilege of shooting 
him, as it would be the greatest honor. Among the Indians, it 
was a custom that when an uncle commanded a nephew to per- 
form any service, however dangerous, he was in duty bound to 
do it with unquestioned promptitude ; asd in return the nephew 
had the right to ask any favor of hip uncle, which must as 
readily be complied with. Hence L'Espagnol promptly acceded 
to Yellow Dog's request. The nephew was to fire when his 
uncle should set the example by firing at a plainer dressed 
officer, who was swinging bis sword carelessly by the handle. 
When L'Espagnol fired, Major Holmes — for so he proved to be 
— with his epaulette on his shoulder, fell forward dead. His 
sword and cap were pitched somewhat ahead of him, and 
L'Espagnol had barely time to dash out, seize them, and hasten 
away in the rear of the rocks, with his nephew following him. 
The latter 's gun had missed fire, so the bespangled captain 
escaped unhurt. 

"When Major Holmes fell, his negro servant ran off with his 
body, hiding it between a couple of boulders and throwing some 
leaves and stuff over him. Hence, when the Indians subse- 
quently returned to get his scalp and searched carefully, they 

25 Dr. Draper wrote on the Ms., "It must be an error in Grignon's 
'Recollections' [Wis. Hist. Colls., iii, p. 280] that Oshawwahnem was a 
cousin of L'Espagnol." But Indian relationships were not carefully 
marked in degree — the difference between nephew and cousin might 
not be regarded as important. For further information concerning this 
chief, consult Id, x, pp. 499, 500. — Ed. 


Powell's Recollections 

failed to find it. Shortly after, the Americans sent back a 
flag of truce from their ships lying at anchor, asking permission 
to take away Major Holmes's body. This was granted and the 
Indians who went along with the British guard were surprised 
when the American party, with the "black meat" (as they 
termed the negro servant) for their guide, went and uncovered 
the concealed body within a few feet of where they had repeat- 
edly passed in search of it. Thus L'Espagnol lost his much cov- 
eted scalp ; but the exploit, and the trophies which he gave to 
Colonel Dickson, gave him a high reputation among his people. 
I myself saw in 1819 the sword and cap formerly belonging to 
Major Holmes, then in Dickson's possession. 

The Yellow Dog must have died early, for I have no recol- 
lection of ever having seen him. L'Espagnol used to live in 
the Green Bay region, making his winter hunts up the Wiscon- 
sin. He was an excellent hunter and trapper, and really a 
peaceable and good Indian and popular with the traders. L'Es- 
pagnol was not less than six feet two inches in height, rawboned, 
and powerful. He could pack on his back a deer he had 
killed, a five-year-old buck, weighing over two hundred pounds. 
Saketoo, the eldest surviving son of L'Espagnol, and a younger 
brother, are (1877) living near Keshena. 

Prairie du Chien Expedition. I have no knowledge of Col- 
onel McKay's history prior or subsequent to the Prairie du 
Chien expedition. But I knew Duncan Graham, a Scotchman 
who married a Sioux woman. He was a small-sized man and 
while on a visit to Green Bay about 1830, got a power of attor- 
ney from Peter Powell, John Lawe, and some of the Grignons 
for British services, and went to Montreal to collect the claims; 
but he was never heard of afterwards. 24 

My father, who was in McKay's expedition, used to relate 
that the [American] gunboat was upon the river above the fort. 
When the British and Indians (Menominee, Winnebago, Sioux, 
some Chippewa, and perhaps Potawatomi) were lying around 

"For facts in regard to the life of Duncan Graham, see Id, ix, pp. 
299, 467. Peter Powell was employed by Graham in the Red River 
country, 1818-21, so that Captain William must have known him when 
a boy. The story of his disappearance is untrue; he died in Minnesota 
about 1845, at the home of his son-in-law, Alexander Faribault. — Ed. 

11 [ 155 ] 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

on the flats, beleaguering the post, the gunboat floated down. 
Seeing the British and Indians apparently so numerous, those 
on board of the boat regarded the chance of maintaining the 
fort as hopeless, so concluded that their best course was to save 
themselves and boat and pass on down the river. As they 
passed, the [American] garrison hailed them, and even shot off 
their cannon at the vessel from the bastions, to make them 
heave to; but they passed on without stopping. Lewis From 
[Louis Manaigre] , one of the crew or men on the gunboat, whom 
I later knew well, stated to me that the shot from the American 
cannon penetrated the stern of the vessel. 

When the British first arrived and demanded a surrender the 
American commander refused; thereupon Colonel McKay had 
a furnace erected to heat balls with which to attempt to fire the 
fort. Seeing the gunboat had deserted them, the garrison con- 
cluded it was best to surrender, and did so just as the British 
had got ready to fire their hot shot. Peter Powell used to say 
that had the gunboat taken its place near the fort, it could have 
done effectual work in beating back the British and Indians, and 
he thought, would have saved the garrison. I have heard the 
Menominee speak of Colonel McKay as a brave, good leader and 
instance the fact that when the Americans fired their cannon, 
the Indians would dodge behind some protection, or fall upon 
the ground ; but Colonel McKay himself would remain standing, 
erect and fearless. On the way to Prairie du Chien, there was 
but a short supply of salt, so the expedition had to take barrels 
of sugar to use in covering and preserving the fresh beef, which 
answered the purpose. 

Boilvin, 25 the Indian agent at the Prairie, was scared half to 
death; he acted as British or American, as best answered his 
purpose. Peter Powell also related that while the negotiations 
were going on for the surrender at the gate, and the firing had 
ceased, the Indians pressed up to the outside of the pickets, 
when one of the Sioux peeping through a crack between the 
pickets, seeing an American soldier near-by called out " how-do," 
extending his hand. When the American thrust his hand 
through between the pickets, the Indian seized it with one hand, 

'■For a sketch of Nicolas Boilvin see Id, xix, p. 314, note 61. — Ed. 


Powell's Recollections 

at the same time treacherously drawing his knife and cutting 
the soldier's hand quite to the bone before the treachery was 
discovered. When Colonel McKay learned the facts, he ferreted 
out the culprit, and punished him by degrading him to a squaw, 
depriving him of his gun, and putting on him a petticoat. 

Rolette 26 was sent by canoe with a flag and a few men to 
carry dispatches to Mackinac from Colonel McKay. As they 
hove in sight of Mackinac, singing their songs, the people all 
rushed to the landing, asking for news from the expedition be- 
fore they reached the shore. Rolette, excited and impressed 
with the importance of what had been accomplished, replied: 
"Oh, we've gained a great and bloody battle and victory I' 8 
when in fact scarcely any lives were lost. 

The only Menominee I now recall who served in the War of 
1812 and is still living, is Okamawsah, known by the whites as 
Louis Ducharme. He was a half-breed son of Colonel Du- 
charme, 27 and on going to parties used to put on his uniform. 
The Colonel himself was a large, dignified man, and died when 
quite aged, at Green Bay about 1831. 

Tecum seh. From what Souligny and others related, I under- 
stand that Tecumseh never visited the Green Bay Menominee in 
persons; but some of his messengers did come, bringing a wam- 
pum belt or speech, urging the Menominee to join the confeder- 
acy, and they accomplished their object. Souligny and others 
had formed a high opinion of Tecumseh, and used to relate that 
they first saw the great Shawnee leader at Fort Meigs, in the 
spring of 1813. 

Robert Dickson 

I know nothing of Dickson's early life. Soon after he came 
out as a trader, he married a daughter of Wanoti, head chief 
of the Yankton band of the Sioux — a band that lived on the 

"For Joseph Rolette see Ibid, p. 140, note 84. — Ed. 

"For a brief sketch of Col. Joseph Ducharme, see Ibid, p. 293, note 
22; his son Louis is mentioned in Id, xv, pp. 215-217. Dr. Draper, how- 
ever, thought that reference was here made to a son of Dominique, 
brother of Joseph and Paul Ducharme. — Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

plains and prairies. 28 His oldest child, William, 29 was in 1819 
about twenty-one and just married. Thus he was born about 
1798, and Dickson must have formed this marriage connection 
about 1797. Dickson's wife was a very small woman, fair of 
complexion, but at forty not handsome. When we left Pembina 
in the spring of 1822 and went to Fort Snelling, we met Dick- 
son, who shortly after left his children there and took his wife 
on a visit to England. It was said that he presented her to the 
king and court, where she maintained herself with much dignity. 

The Indians fairly reverenced and worshipped Dickson, re- 
garding him as a great man. He was of fine appearance, over 
six feet in height, a very large-sized man, in later life being 
somewhat corpulent, weighing over two hundred pounds. The 
Indians called him Mascotapah, or The Red-haired Man — some- 
times Dick-e-son. He was generous to a fault, and humane. 
Souligny related that Dickson constantly impressed it upon the 
Indians not to kill and take scalps when they could take prison- 
ers, saying that the greater warriors took and saved prisoners 
rather than destroyed them. I also remember having heard 
that Colonel Snelling entertained Colonel Dickson very courte- 
ously at Fort Snelling, in recognition of his humanity during 
the War of 1812-15. 

Dickson used to assure the Menominee and Sioux that those 
Avho had served under the British standard should never be for- 
gotten ; that their Great Father had empowered him to say that 
as long as one should be alive who had thus served the king, he 
should not want; that their lodges should be covered with scar- 
let cloth. 

In 1823 Dickson visited Prairie du Chien, leaving there his 
daughter Ellen, then a young lady grown, probably to obtain 
something of an education. This was the last time that I ever 
saw him. Ellen subsequently married Joseph R. Brown, a ser- 
geant in the army, who was not long after discharged and went 

"According to Warren, "History of the Ojibwa," in Minn. Hist. Colls., 
v, p. 363, Wanahta, chief of the Yankton band, was a nephew of Dick- 
Bon'B wife. The former was a noted Sioux chief of the plains of the" 
Red River of the North. — Ed. 

"For a brief sketch of William Dickson, see Wis. Hist. Colls., xix, 
p. 444, note 73.— Ed. 


Powell's Recollections 

to live upon a farm near Fort Armstrong, on the western side 
of the Mississippi There I once stayed over night with him, and 
have since learned that he was a member of the Minnesota legis- 
lature during its territorial period, so he must have subsequently 
removed to Minnesota. 30 

Dickson's son Thomas was a clerk in the Indian trade, and 
got killed in some affray with the Sioux. The younger girl 
lived at Faribault. I think it was not long after this visit to 
Prairie du Chien and Green Bay, that the news came of Dick- 
son's death at Drummond Island. 31 

Menominee chiefs 

Among the Menominee, the White Beaver (to which Oshkosh 
belonged), the Wolf, the Turtle, the Crane, and the Bear were 
the principal clans — there were several lesser ones, such as the 
Turkey, etc. 

Tomah was a large, fine man, much respected by whites and 
Indians. 32 

Souligny was fond of relating his war exploits, and rather mag- 
nified them. He was about five feet nine inches high, very 
stoutly built, and strong. He died about 1867 of erysipelas, 
nearly eighty years old, but well preserved. 33 

30 Maj. Joseph R. Brown was one of the most influential of the early 
settlers of Minnesota. Born in Maryland in 1805, he ran away at the 
age of fourteen and joined the United States army as a drummer. Com- 
ing with Colonel Leavenworth to Fort Snelling in 1819, he was dis- 
charged about 1825 and entered the Indian trade. Later he was a pio- 
neer lumberman, printer, legislator, and editor, being the founder of 
the St. Paul Pioneer. He laid out the town of Stillwater, was in both 
the Wisconsin and Minnesota territorial legislatures, and was one of 
the best-known men of the region. He died in New York in 1870. See 
Minn. Hust. Colls., iii, pp. 201-212; iv, p. 41; ix, p. 179.— Ed. 

"Dickson died at Drummond Island, July 20, 1823, aged fifty-five 
years. — Ed. 

M For a brief sketch of this noted chief see Wis. Hist. Colls., xviii, 
p. 446, note 65; a document in Id, xix, p. 346, proves his participation in 
the War of 1812-15 on the British side.— Ed. 

M For a different date of Souligny's death see Id, x, p. 497— Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

Waupomasah, nicknamed Old Sore-Eyes, was principal chief 
of the Menominee at Lake Shawano. The "Admired Man" is 
the meaning of his name. He was out in the War of 1812, and 
died at Keshena about 1868, fully eighty years of age. 

Iometah died about the same year that Souligny did — very 
aged and childish. He was a short, thickset man, about five 
feet eight inches, an excellent Indian in character. 34 

Poegonah, generally called Big Soldier, 35 died in 1834 or 1835 
nearly ninety years of age, at the village of his name in Calu- 
met County, on Lake Winnebago, nearly opposite the mouth 
of the Black Wolf. From earliest life he had gone on every 
war expedition with his people, and even with other tribes. 
Once he was out in a campaign against the Pawnee. He was 
the tallest man among the Menominee, fully six feet four inches, 
finely proportioned, and was known for his tall form by all the 
nations around. He always wore a conspicuous eagle feather on 
the top of his scalp-lock, so fitted into a small hollow upright 
bone, with a socket, that it would twirl about with every chang- 
ing breeze. He seemed to pride himself in having his scalp- 
lock nicely trimmed and ornamented, as much as to say to his 
enemies in war, "Come and take it if you can!" But he had 
an abiding faith that no foe would ever possess it. He attended 
the treaty at Green Bay in 1828, where a drunken soldier acting 
as sentinel in protecting the Indian camp, recklessly ran his 
bayonet through Poegonah 's thigh. The old chief seized the 
soldier, disarmed him with one hand, and grabbing him by the 
throat with the other, threw him to the ground, calling him a 
dog, and alleging that if he were an enemy, he would take his 
life for his insolence. Colonel Brooks, the commanding officer 
of the troops, had the reckless soldier whipped in the presence 
of the Indians. 36 Poegonah went out on the Sauk expedition in 

31 See Ibid, pp. 497-499, where Dr. Draper gives some additional state- 
ments from Powell, with relation to this chief. — Ed. 

•° Compare what Augustin Grignon says of this chief in Id, iii, 
pp. 232, 294.— Ed. 

"There was no treaty at Green Bay in 1828; Powell doubtless refers 
to that of 1832, which the Big Soldier signed. At that time, also, Gen. 
George E. Brooke of the 5th Infantry was commandant at Fort How- 
ard. — Ed. 


Powell's Recollections 

1832, but said that it was only child's play, although it would 
serve to give the young warriors some little experience. So in 
the skirmish near Cassville 37 he did not discharge his gun, but 
rushed among the combatants to show his fearlessness. 

He left two sons, both large men, Sacketook and Wiskeno (or 
The Bird) — the former was a chief and good Indian. Both 
have passed away. 

Grizzly Bear 38 (Kotskaunoniew), a very large, fleshy Indian, 
the orator of the Menominee, was smart and intelligent and 
prided himself on being the white man's friend. He went to 
Washington with Stambaugh 39 and stayed during the winter 
of 1830-31. On his return from this trip, where he had been, 
shown everything grand and magnificent, he was asked what 
had made the most marked impression on his mind. He re- 
plied that the grandest sight he had ever witnessed was a large 
prairie on fire on a dark night — to see the flames jumping and 
running like lightning, and sending their glare and flashes to 
the very skies. 

When on the Hudson River steamer from New York to Al- 
bany, there was quite a large party aboard. Among the num- 
ber was a fashionable young lady, who expressed to the inter- 
preter a wish to kiss Grizzly Bear, to which that warrior readily 
assented. When the kiss had been taken and the young lady 
retired, some of his friends rallied the old chief, saying that the 
young lady must have fallen in love with him. He replied that 
that was not her motive — she simply wished to have it to say 
that she had kissed a brave and noted Indian chief. He had 
clear ideas of the whites, was of a commanding appearance, and 
died a few years after the Sauk War, perhaps somewhat more 
than sixty years of age. 

Pewautenot's son Waunako was a pretty smart Indian and 
a great speaker. He belonged to the band on Menominee River, 

87 See post. — Ed. 

•'Compare Grignon's account, Wis. Hist. Colls., iii, p. 284; see also 
Id, ii, p. 434. His name in French was Oraisse d'Ours which signifies 
Bears' Fat; the denomination "Grizzly" appears to be a misinterpreta- 
tion — no grizzly bears having had a Wisconsin habitat. — Ed. 

" Samuel C. Stambaugh was for a short time Indian agent at Green 
Bay; see Id, xi, p. 392; also xii, xv, passim. — Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

and has been dead several years. The present chief Keshena is 
his nephew. 

Oshkosh 40 possessed, in a remarkable degree, a knowledge of 
the traditions of his people. He was a man of strong sense 
and died at Keshena, Shawano County, August 15, 1858. He 
requested his tribe, when he died, to bury him in a sitting pos- 
ture, with his pipe, tobacco pouch, gun and powder-horn, and 
pouch, one beaver steel trap, and a rat trap, so that he might 
be properly equipped when he arrived in the good hunting 

Ahconemay, his oldest son, was to take his place as head 
chief of the tribe after his death, and he was so considered by 
the tribe, until he was suspended by the Indian agent for kill- 
ing Augustin Grignon Jr. 41 Even after his suspension the tribe 
still regarded him, as they had his father, head chief of the tribe. 

Oshkahenawniew, or The Young Man, was Oshkosh 's only 
brother. He was small in stature, abusive and bitter in his 
speech. He died about 1867, and two of his sons are still liv- 
ing. 42 

Charley Carron is the son of Josette, 43 who was recognized by 
Governor Cass at the treaty at Little Butte des Morts in 1827 
as the second chief of the Menominee. Charley was in my em- 
ploy as clerk from 1841 until 1845, while I was trading on Fox 
River, two miles above Omro. When he left my employ he 
went and settled where Omro now is; he pre-empted the land, 
but sold out in 1847, and moved to Mukwa on the Wolf River. 

40 For this chief see Id, iii, iv, passim. — Ed. 

a This event occurred in 1861. Augustin Grignon Jr. was a half-breed 
Bon of the elder Augustin, and was employed in the fur-trade. He was 
kilted by Oshkosh's eldest son because he refused to allow him to 
drink in his cabin. Ahconemay (Aconnamie) was tried and sentenced 
to state prison; but after a year or more he was pardoned by the gov- 
ernor and returned to the reservation in Shawano County. — Ed. 

"This chief was about seven or eight years younger than Oshkosh, 
and took part with the Menominee in most of their activities; see Wis. 
Hist. Colls., iii, passim,. — Ed. 

"Charley Carron, well-educated and of fine* physique, was a noted 
leader of the half-breeds in dare-devil exploits. See R. G. Thwaites, 
"History of Winnebago County," in Oshkosh Times for 1876. — Ed. 

[ 162 ] 

Powells Recollections 

He was in the Indian trade at that place until 1854, when he 
moved to Grand Rapids. While he was in trade he had several 
narrow escapes from being killed by Indians ; was shot at 
three or four times, and stabbed as many times with a knife. 
He has stabbed several of the Indians himself. He is still liv- 
ing, spending most of his time at Grand Rapids and Plover on 
the "Wisconsin. 

The Indian called The Rubber, I knew well; Augustin 
Grignon has correctly portrayed him. 44 He was of a boasting 
disposition, fond of representing himself as a hero of exploits 
of which no one else had any knowledge; especially claiming 
to have pre-eminently befriended the Americans and the 
American cause, when others were aiding the British. This was 
to gain favor in the eyes of the American military officers, in 
the shape of a frequent friendly dram. The Rubber was also 
accustomed to claim gifts from the old settlers at the Bay, on 
pretence that he was the owner of the territory; but the other 
Indians would laugh at his pretence to either the ownership of 
land or to prominence. He died about 1839, somewhere along 
the shore of Green Bay, perhaps at Grass Point, some eight or 
nine miles below Green Bay. It was at a time when a large 
number of the Indians were encamped there with the cholera, 
and they were prohibited from coming up to Green Bay. Dr. 
Crane, 45 who yet resides at Green Bay, was employed by the 
government to attend them, and I used to accompany him on 
his daily visits as interpreter. The doctor left a quantity of 
mustard with the Indians, with directions to put a plaster of it 
over the breast of any one attacked with the disease. The next 
day when he visited the camp, we were surprised not to see a 
solitary person stirring anywhere. "Are the poor fellows all 
dead?" we enquired of each other. But on entering the wig- 
wams, every Indian, old and young, was found spread flat upon 
his back, covered with a mustard plaster. All had resorted to 
it, as a precaution against the dread disease, of which large 

"See Wis. Hist. Colls., iii, pp. 280, 281.— Ed. 

"The date must have been later, for Dr. C. E. Crane did not settle 
In Green Bay until 1846. He was born in Ohio, 1827, and died at 
Green Bay 1897. During the War of Secession he was surgeon for the 
5th Wisconsin, and later mayor of his adopted city (1874-79). — Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

numbers of them had died — I think The Rubber was among 

Most of these prominent Menominee chiefs were members of 
the Catholic church, and the dates of their deaths must be on 
record at the mission ; but there is no priest there now. Maybe 
the Indian agents kept some record of their deaths ; but I hardly 
think that probable. 

As late as 1830, quite a number of Menominee, several chiefs 
among them, went to Drummond Island 46 and got British 
presents, guns, traps, brass kettles, ammunition, etc. Col. 
[George] Boyd, the American Indian agent, 47 on learning of 
this fact, warned the chiefs that if any of them went there again 
their medals would be taken away from them, and they would 
no longer have any claim upon the American government. This 
firm action on the part of the colonel had the desired effect of 
breaking off the British influence. 

At this time [1877], the tribe numbers about 1350 souls. 

Black Hawk War 

In 1832, when the Sauk War broke out, 4S General Atkinson" 
sent Col. William S. Hamilton 50 with instructions to the Indian 
agent, Colonel Boyd, to enlist the Menominee and appoint 
proper commanding officers. Col. C. S. Stambaugh, who had 
formerly been connected with the Indian service, and then re- 
sided at Green Bay, was selected to command the Menominee^ 
who were 480 in number, divided into companies. Augustin 
Grignon was captain of one, with Charles A. Grignon his son, 
for first-lieutenant, and George Grignon his nephew, second-lieut- 

** For a sketch of the British post on Drummond Island see Wis. Hist. 
Colls., xix, p. 146, note 94. The post was removed in 1828. For the 
prolonged British influence over the tribes on American soil see Id, 
xx, passim. — Ed. 

47 For this person see Id, xii, pp. 266-269.— Ed. 

"For papers on the Green Bay contingent in the Black Hawk War, 
Bee Id, ill, pp. 293-295; xii, pp. 217-298.— Ed. 

49 For Gen. Henry Atkinson consult Id, i, ii, iv, passim. — Ed. 

W A biographical sketch of William S. Hamilton is given in Id, xii, 
pp. 270, 271.— Ed. 


Powells Recollections 

•enant. George Johnston commanded the other company, with 
William Powell first, and Robert Grignon second-lieutenant, 
while James M. Boyd, a young son of Colonel Boyd, was third- 
lieutenant and secretary of the company. Alexander Irwin was 
quartermaster.'"' 1 

We went to Fort Winnebago by land. There Stambaugh re- 
ceived word from General Atkinson of the Bad Axe affair 32 and 
an order, since the war was now virtually ended, directing him 
to return to Green Bay and disband the Menominee. The latter 
were very desirous of going to Prairie du Chien, as they had' 
some relatives and friends residing there, and they probably 
had some curiosity to go to headquarters and learn all they 
could about the war. So Stambaugh sent Robert Grignofi and 
me with dispatches to meet Gen. [Winfield] Scott, who was 
expected at Prairie du Chien, and make known this earnest 
wish of the Menominee ; and say that he would march in that 
direction. From the Blue Mounds, Grignon returned accord- 
ing to instructions, while I continued on alone to Prairie du 
Chien, where General Scott had just arrived on board of a 
steamboat. I delivered to him the dispatches, and he sent me 
back with dispatches to Stambaugh. Information had just 
reached General Scott at the very time I appeared, that a hos- 
tile party of Sauk and Foxes, said to be a hundred in number, 
were wending their way clown the Mississippi by land. So 
General Scott concluded to gratify the Menominee and di- 
rected Stambaugh and his Indians to repair to Brunet's Ferry, 
at Little Rock, a few miles above the mouth of the Wisconsin, 53 
and thence proceed to intercept those Sauk and Foxes. This 
permission gratified the Menominee. I overtook tbe party about 

"See Ibid, p. 278, note 1.— Ed. 

02 See Ibid, pp. 257-261.— Ed. 

03 Brunet's Ferry, which for many years has been in disuse, had its 
southern end in Grant County (section 14, range 6 west, township 6 
north), and crossed the Wisconsin in a northwest direction. It was es- 
tablished in 1837 under license from the territorial legislature by Jean 
Brunet, a French-Canadian of Prairie du Chien, and was on the mili- 
tary road from Fort Winnebago to Fort Crawford. Probably, however, 
Brunet had lived at this place for some years previous to securing a 
license, and was in the habit of aiding travellers across the 1 river. — Ed. 

[165 ] 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

forty miles above Prairie du Chien. On reaching Brunet's 
Ferry, Lieutenant Boyd and I were sent to Prairie du Chien 
for provisions and any later news about the hostile party. Aug- 
ustin Grignon is mistaken in saying that Col. William S. Ham- 
ilton had anything to do with this expedition, for he had not, 
and was not along. 

Among the Menominee chiefs was Ahkamotte — not La Motte, 
as Grignon has it — selected by the Indians on this expedition as 
their prophet, and he held powwows every night to determine 
where the enemy were. 

Colonel Stambaugh with a hundred warriors and six chiefs — 
Oshkosh, Grizzly Bear, Pewautenot, Souligny, Ahkamotte, and 
Poegonah — started to pursue the hostiles. They struck the 
trail and followed it, expecting it would lead to the river not 
far below the mouth of the Wisconsin ; but it bore off from the 
river. Lieutenants Powell and Boyd, with the remainder of the 
Indians, some 200 in number, except those sick and sorefooted, 
were ordered to go direct to the Mississippi and follow its bank, 
to intercept the enemy should they attempt to cross that river. 
There were no prominent chiefs with Powell and Boyd; all had 
gone with Stambaugh, thinking that he would have the expected 
fight, and reap the honors. Each of these parties kept out spies. 

About five miles back of Cassville, r>4 in the interior, the next 
day after leaving Brunet's Ferry in pursuit, they found the 
enemy camped by a little stream between four and five o'clock 
in the afternoon. The Sauk and Foxes had had four days the 
start, but made slow progress, as they had to stop and hunt for 
their living. The hostiles would keep on the trail for a few 
miles, then would scatter awhile, then reunite and go on together 
again. Robert Grignon, Sacketook (son of Poegonah) and two 
others were in advance spying, and discovered the enemy in a 
hollow, cooking their venison. They returned and thus re- 
ported. The Indians were formed into four parties — one led 
by Augustin Grignon and the Prophet, with Oshkosh and Poe- 
gonah ; another party by Robert Grignon ; Alexander Irwin led 
another; and Lieut. C. A. Grignon the fourth. Captain Johns- 

84 The only other printed description of the battle of Cassville known 
to us; is that of Grignon in Wis. Hist. Colls., iii, pp. 293-295.— Ed. 


Powell's Recollections 

ton and Colonel Stambaugh remained with the Prophet's party 
— Johnston because he was somewhat advanced in years. 05 

Just before starting, about half a mile from the hostile camp, 
Stambaugh made a brief speech to the Indians, saying to them : 
"Take prisoners. Your Great Father will give you more for 
one prisoner than he would for a dozen scalps;" and he charged 
the officers to enforce this order. Grizzly Bear responded in 
Menominee, Charles A. Grignon interpreting: "Tell our Father 
here that the Great Spirit saw proper to put a switch in the 
hands of our Sauk and Fox enemies to chastise us last year, 
which they did at Prairie du Chien, killing a good many of 
our people. Now he has seen proper to put that same switch 
into our hands to-day, which I cannot prevent my young war- 
riors from using. Tell our Father also, that since we left 
Green Bay we have been obedient children to all his commands;] 
but in this matter about not taking scalps, we must be excused 
if we fail to regard it." 

The Prophet had a large, valuable wampum belt, seven feet 
long and a foot and a half wide, very heavy; it must have cost 
fully $70, being made of stone wampum beads, alternately grey 
and white, from Van Dieman's Land. This was to be the re- 
ward for the first scalp to lie brought to the Prophet. He also 
had a flute upon which he was to blow a shrill, loud whistle as a 
signal for the several parties to raise the war-whoop when they 
had taken the places assigned them, completely surrounding 
the enemy. When the signal was given, and the war-whoop 
raised, they were but a quarter of a mile from the Sauk camp, 
and it was but a few moments till the whole were rushing down 
upon them, whooping and hallooing. One of the Sauk fired, 
but without effect, save to hit off the breech of the gun of 
Saunapow, or The Ribbon. The latter quickly returned the 
fire, killing him, when several ran to get the scalp ; but Sauna- 
pow got the main scalp, and others some smaller scalps. Then 
there was a race for the Prophet, but Saunapow won and re- 
ceived the prize belt, the Prophet keeping the scalp, and thank- 
ing the young warrior for a valuable gift. Some of the Sauk 
women and four or five children seeing that Robert Grignon 

61 For a brief sketch of this person see Id, xx. — Ed. 

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Wisconsin Historical Society 

was a white man and approaching the nearest, ran toward him 
and threw themselves at his feet for protection. Among these 
was a young warrior, about seventeen years old, who dropped 
his gun, seeing the hopelessness of the unequal contest, and 
ran mixing in with the women, and Robert Grignon protected 
him. Meanwhile some of the Sauk and Foxes ran and hid be- 
hind some boulders near by, and one of these was firing from 
behind a boulder, about half way up the hill, when Grignon 
started after him, with a Menominee close beside him. The 
concealed Sauk fired, apparently intending to shoot the Me- 
nominee, but the bullet struck Robert Grignon, hitting a rib, and 
coursed around, lodging in the small of the back. About the 
same moment Grignon received the fire of another Indian, two 
buckshot entering his left shoulder. "Whereupon the Menom- 
inee rushed up and shot the one who first wounded Grignon, 
killed him, and hacked him up, and kept at him till there was 
little left of him. 

Among the Sauk was a Winnebago with whom some of the 
Menominee in Calumet had intermarried, and recognized his na- 
tionality. He held up his hands and prayed for mercy in the 
Winnebago language; whereupon a lame Menominee, Okeemon- 
sah, or Little Chief, ran up, and said : ' ' I have been many times 
to war, and from my lameness was always a little too late ; now 
I will not return without a scalp; you can be no good Winne- 
bago to be with our enemies." Thereupon he gave him a 
sudden stab with his spear, when he fell, and the Menominee 
seized his scalp lock, whereupon the Winnebago seized him by 
the hand on his scalp; but with the free hand Okeemonsah 
quickly encircled his head, gave him a kick in the back of the 
neck, and stripped off the scalp, and the poor victim, just after 
another Menominee had walked up and shot him through the 
head, soon expired. 

Augustin Grignon, naturally very tender-hearted, walked up, 
and was much touched with such savage conduct; a tear 
was observed by Grizzly Bear to trickle down Grignon 's 
cheek — Grizzly Bear was an uncommonly large Indian, over 
six feet, a brawny man, weighing fully 250 pounds. He said 
to Grignon, "What are you crying for? Was this fellow one 
of your kindred? If not, you had better go home and join the 


Powell's Recollections 

squaws, who alone indulge in weeping." Grignon gave the 
old chief a lefthand blow across the mouth, replying that no 
brave warrior would indulge in such a horrid carnage; that he 
should be satisfied after having killed his f oe ; " now ' ', he cried, 
"since you are so brave a man, resent this, and defend your- 
self," giving him another blow. But Grizzly Bear, though as 
well armed as Grignon, refrained from returning blows. Three 
other Indians were killed in the melee, and a small child on 
its mother's back was shot through the body between the 
shoulders, the ball lodging in the mother's clothing. She did 
not discover that the child was dead, or even hit, till after 
the affair was over. 

The skirmish lasted but a few minutes — the Sauk keeping the 
Menominee at bay, by getting behind the rocks and boulders. 
Eighteen women were taken prisoners, a boy some eight years 
old, and three or four younger children. 

Just as the affair was over, Colonel Stambaugh came up. and 
wished to shake hands with the chiefs. Grizzly Bear wanted 
to know what the colonel wanted to shake hands for — it was 
only a few minutes ago that they parted. Stambaugh ex- 
plained, however, that he wished to do it to express his pleasure 
at their success ; but he had no word to say about the scalps. 

Boyd and I, with our party, heard the distant firing, and 
were approaching to take part. Between the river and the battle- 
ground, we met four Menominee carrying by hand Robert Grig- 
non on a litter of a blanket stretched between two poles — mean- 
ing to watch an opportunity to get some sort of water convey- 
ance to Prairie du Chien. My whole party then returned to 
Brunet's Ferry, two Indians taking Grignon up in a canoe 
which they got from some settler; and the young Sauk lad, 
who was taken prisoner, went up with them. 

On the way to Brunet's Ferry, my party and Stambaugh 's 
met and went on together, reaching Brunet's the next day. 
But the night after the fight, Stambaugh and party stopped at a 
little village where they met General Dodge and Colonel Hamil- 
ton, without soldiers, these having been disbanded after the battle 
of Bad Axe. They got plenty of liquor, for Dodge and Hamil- 
ton were treating the Indians freely. The latter indulged in 
great boasting 1 as to who took the most scalps; by their repre- 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

sentation, one would have thought that a great battle had been 
fought, and hundreds of scalp trophies taken. 

After reaching Brunet's Ferry, all the prisoners were as- 
signed to me to convey without any guard to the fort at Prairie 
du Chien, seven miles distant. When about half way there, I 
met Wistweaw, the Blacksmith, somewhat in liquor. He was 
one of those who had conveyed Robert Grignon in a canoe to 
Prairie du Chien, and approached us begging the privilege of 
killing the young Sauk and taking his scalp home, so that he 
could say he had a war trophy — otherwise he would have noth- 
ing to relate, only cooking pork and dough-boys. But I refused, 
saying that the prisoners were confided to me to take and de- 
liver at the fort. Still the Indian plead, and finally made a 
lunge with his knife at the young Indian who was close to me, 
but the latter saw the action in time to dodge the blow. Then 
the Blacksmith was compelled to desist, but ever afterwards he 
lamented his great misfortune in failing to secure that scalp. 

When the news reached Prairie du Chien of the prisoners 
taken near Cassville, the women of the Menominee band residing 
at the Prairie, some of whose husbands and brothers had been 
killed by the Sauk and Foxes the year before, came to Brunet's 
Ferry, seven miles, to seek revenge. These squaws, to the num- 
ber of about twenty, arranged themselves on each side of the 
path. When Stambaugh's party and prisoners crossed at the 
ferry and landed on the north side, Oshkosh in particular sug- 
gested that these Menominee women be examined to see whether 
they had any weapons with which they could injure the Sauk 
squaws. Upon search being made, several of them were found 
to have small tomahawks and knives concealed under their 
clothing. These were taken from them. But as the Sauk pris- 
oners passed between the rows of Menominee women, the latter 
availed themselves of an Indian custom for each to touch the 
prisoners as they passed. Some barely touched them tenderly 
with the tips of their fingers, while others seized them by their 
hair and shook and jerked them about without mercy. The Sauk 
women were rejoiced to get off without worse treatment. They 
were kept in duress a short time in the garrison at Prairie du 
Chien, then sent down to Rock Island, and soon after discharged. 

After a few days of recruiting and preparation, the Menom- 


Powell's Recollections 

inee returned home, scattering from Butte cles Morts. Robert 
Grignon remained some time in the hospital at Prairie du Chien. 
Doctor Beaumont"' easily extracted the buckshot from his 
shoulder; but the ball in his back could not with safety be 
taken out. Grignon drew a pension of $15 per month and 
lived till he froze to death, near his own house, not far from 
Christmas, about twelve years ago. 57 

Makata Mishekakah, or the Black Falcon, was the name the 
Sauk and Foxes gave Col. Zaehary Taylor. Ahchechawk, or the 
White Crane, was their name for General Scott. Black Hawk 
claimed that he surrendered himself, as he had heard that in 
case he did so, all the prisoners would be released. On reaching 
Prairie du Chien, Colonel Taylor brought out handcuffs to put 
on him. "Why do you want to put the handcuffs on me when 
I have given myself up and can 't get away ; I had expected 
better treatment from the Black Falcon." Taylor replied that 
it was not his wish to do so, and that he was sorry so to treat 
him; but he was himself but a small chief, and had to obey the 
orders of his superiors; and these were the orders of the big 
chief, the White Crane. Then Black Hawk said that he had 
supposed the Black Falcon was too humane to treat him thus; 
but as these were the orders of the White Crane, then do so — 
whereupon he extended his hands and received the handcuffs. 

At the treaty at Rock Island, General Scott had Black Hawk 
degraded from his chieftainship and Keokuk appointed in his 
place. Keokuk rose and addressed Black Hawk, saying that 
this was not of his own seeking, that he regretted Black Hawk's 
degradation ; but the latter had, contrary to his advice, plunged 
himself and people into the war, and the Great Father had 
taken the chieftainship from him. Then Black Hawk addressed 
General Scott, asking why he who had not conferred this honor 
upon him. could have the power to deprive him of it. Pointing 

"For Dr. William Beaumont see Id, xv, p. 397, note 4. — Ed. 

" Robert Grignon was the' eldest son of Pierre Antoine, himself the 
eldest of the Grignon brothers. Robert was born about 1804 at Green 
Bay. He early entered the fur-trade, and was a clerk for his uncles, 
settling first at Butte des Morts, later within the limits of Oshkosh. He 
died in 1864, frozen near his own home, having become bewildered in a 
storm. — Ed. 

12 [171] 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

his finger upward, he indicated that the One who had made 
him a chief alone could unmake him. 

Capt. William Powell 

"When my father returned from Hudson Bay in 1822 and 
left me in the care of Captain Alexander, I remained with him 
three years a,t Fort Snelling. The captain being sent on a re- 
cruiting service to St. Louis, took me with him, and during his 
stay there sent me to school five miles from Belle Fontaine. 

I remained there until the spring of 1827, when I came to 
Rock Island, and stayed until the first of September, 1828, 
when my father sent for me and I came home to Butte des 
Morts. When I arrived where Portage City now is, Major 
Twiggs had just got there with two or three companies of 
United States troops to commence building the fort, which was 
called Fort "Winnebago. 58 Twiggs was the commanding officer. 
Jefferson Davis 59 was also there, just from West Point; he 
w T as only second-lieutenant at that time. 

Two years later, while Lieutenant Davis was stationed at 
Fort Winnebago, Twiggs still commanding, a powerful Ken- 
tuckian named Stewart, a carpenter by trade, dwelt there as 
Daniel M. Whitney's agent in transporting boats over the portage. 
There was a. camp of Menominee Indians near the American 
Fur Company 's store, where Pierre Paquette lived, 00 and Stew- 
art went over one day with a tanned deer skin to get some 
moccasins made. It was a Sunday, and Davis happening to be 
there, ordered him off. Stewart intimated that he had as much 
right there as Davis had, and that he should go when he got 
ready, and not before. Davis felt his dignity insulted, and gave 
Stewart an unexpected and heavy blow. Stewart recovering, 
pitched upon Davis and gave him a severe whipping, badly 
bruising his face and eyes. I was then a clerk in the store, and 
Davis had me get a chicken, kill it, and put the fresh carcass on 

68 See account of this event and a sketch of Twiggs in Wis. Hist. 
Colls., xiv, pp. 65-76.— Ed. 

M On Davis at Fort Winnebago see Ibid, pp. 72-75; also Id, viii- 
x, xii, xiii, passim. — Ed. 

•• For an account of Pierre Paquette see Id, vii, pp. 382-385. — Ed. 


Powell's Recollections 

his face, to prevent the bruises Prom leaving their discolored 
marks. Stewart, himself brave, was persuaded by Mr. Whitney, 
his employer, to leave for Green Bay, lest he should be re- 
taliated on by Davis or his friends, and he subsequently 
returned to Kentucky. 

Except for a short time at the Portage, I remained with my 
father at Butte des Morts until 1832, then went as first-lieuten- 
ant in the Black Hawk War. After the war, 1 returned home 
and went into partnership with Robert Grignon in the Indian 
trade. We established our trading post at Algoma in the fall 
of 1832, and continued at that place till the fall of 1835, when 
we dissolved our copartnership and I went and lived with my 
father until he died. 

Treaties. I was appointed United States interpreter for the 
Menominee in 1836. The same year, Gov. Henry Dodge of 
Mineral Point was appointed commissioner to make a treaty 
with the Menominee ; this was concluded September 3, 1836. 61 
After the treaty I resigned and went into the Indian trade on 
Fox River, two miles above where Omro now is, and continued 
to trade there till 1846, when for a year I established a trading 
post at the mouth of Shawano Creek, in Shawano County. 
Then quitting the Indian trade, I was again appointed, in 1848, 
United States interpreter and in that capacity served at the 
treaty of that year. Medill was the commissioner on the part 
of the Government in that treaty, wherein the Menominee ceded 
all of their country that they owned in Wisconsin for $400,000. 
By its terms the Government gave them for their future home 
a tract of 500,000 acres of land on the Crow Wing River," 2 150 
to 200 miles above St. Paul. They were to remain in Wisconsin 
for two years after the ratifk-ation of the treaty, and then to 
move to the Crow Wing. At the same time the Government 
agreed to furnish $5,000 to defray the expenses of a delegation 
of nine chiefs with their head chief Oshkosh to go and examine 
the country, before removing in 1850. 

Visit to Washington. President Taylor instructed Major 
Bruce, Indian agent at Green Bay. to take a delegation of chiefs 

"Powell was sworn interpreter at the* Menominee treaty of 1836. — Ed. 
* The treaty guaranteed that there should not be less than 600,000 
acres of land In the tract assigned. — Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

and go and survey the land alloted them on the Crow Wing, and 
after doing so to bring the same delegation to Washington and 
report. I accompanied the delegation to the Crow Wing, and 
with us went my old friend Charles Tullar, 63 who was employed 
to survey the tract. He did not, however, go on with us to 
Washington, as he had more important business that required 
him to remain at Green Bay. Arriving at Washington on Sep- 
tember 4 we remained there some two weeks before Oshkosh with 
the other chiefs could get an interview with the commissioner 
of Indian affairs. There were at the federal capital represent- 
atives of several other tribes of Indians, who had business with 
their great father, the president, who had got there some days 
ahead of us; so we had to wait till our turn came. When the 
time arrived, our Wisconsin chiefs were notified that they might 
come and see their great father and talk over their business 
with him. We conducted Chief Oshkosh and the rest of the 
Indians to the commissioner's office at about 9 o'clock A. M. 
Here we were received by Chief -clerk Charles E. Mix, acting in 
the place of the commissioner, Mr. Lowrey, who was sick at the 
time. After a short talk, Mr. Mix accompanied the delegation 
to the office of the secretary of the interior, and from there the 
latter conducted his visitors to the White House. After the 
chiefs were seated according to rank, President Fillmore, accom- 
panied by General Scott, entered and the chiefs were presented 
and shook hands with both. Chief Oshkosh recognized General 
Scott, for he had seen him both at Green Bay and at the treaty 
at Prairie du Chien. The general also recollected Oshkosh, who 
was a small man, standing only about five feet. When he shook 
hands with the general, Oshkosh said: "You are like a tall pine 
tree, and myself like a scrub-oak. so I stand under your branches 
to protect my head from harm." 

The interview with their Great Father was brief. Oshkosh 

83 Charles Tullar was born in 1804 in Vermont. Coming to Green Bay 
in 1830, he entered the employ of Daniel Whitney and was occupied in 
lumbering, mining, surveying, etc. He acted as sheriff for Brown 
County, 1836-43. He was accustomed to say that the happiest days of 
his life were spent with William Powell, his close friend, surveying In- 
dian reservations. The latter years of his life* were employed as agent 
for the Whitney estate. He died at Green Bay Oct. 20, 1874.— Ed. 


Powell's Recollections 

stated in a very few words that the Crow Wing country was 
not what it had been represented to bis tribe by Commissioner 
Medill, who made the treaty of 1848 ; and that the tribe did not 
like to move to that country because the Indians already there 
were continually engaged in intertribal war. He preferred, he 
said, a home somewhere in Wisconsin, for the poorest region in 
"Wisconsin was better than that of the Crow Wing. He said 
that the latter was a good country for the white man, for he 
was numerous and could protect himself from those warlike 
tribes; but his own tribe was small, and he wished them to live 
in peace for the little time they had to live. 64 

The latter part of September 1 started from Washington for 
Green Bay in charge of the delegation, and was instructed by 
the department to stop at the largest Eastern cities a few days 
and show the chiefs the principal places so as to give them an 
idea how numerous their white brothers were. We stayed a week 
in New York and went to Barnum's Museum every day. Bar- 
num invited Oshkosh and his chiefs to come and hear the great 
singer Jenny Lind, but Oshkosh declined the invitation. A few 
of the younger chiefs went, however, but when they were asked 
by tin 1 other chiefs how they liked the singing, they replied that 
she made a. very big noise and then a little noise. The white 
man must have a great deal more money than he needed, to pay 
so much to hear this lady sing. 

Henry Merrell errs in giving the name of Powell, the trader at 
Green Lake, as William. 03 His first name was James, and he 
was a cousin of mine. He came to Green Bay about 1833, and 
engaged in the Indian trade ; in 1838 he moved west of the Mis- 
sissippi, into Iowa, and I have since lost track of him. 

M Permission was given to the Menominee to remain in Wisconsin, 
which was afterwards confirmed by the treaty of 1854, assigning them 
a reservation in Shawano County. — Ed. 

66 See Wis Hist. Colls., vii. p. 387.— Ed. 

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Wisconsin Historical Society 

John B. Dubay 

John B. Dubay 66 was son of a Canadian, whose name I think 
was Louis. 67 He came here early ; his first wife was a Menominee 
woman, daughter of the principal chief on the Menominee River, 
named Pewatenot, and mentioned in Grignon's ''Narrative" 
as serving in the War of 1812. He also had a son Louis, who 
was only a voyageur. J. B. Dubay was at least four years 
older than myself, certainly being born as early as 1806. When 
a young man. he became a successful trader among the Chip- 
pewa. When he went among the Indians, he would pitch his 
large markee, fit it up neatly with folding seats and a showy 
carpet, and invite the Indians there. Its attractive appearance 
would fix their attention, they would feel honored by the atten- 
tion and would be quite sure to give him their trade. Dubay 
was known to them as Oskaatawananee, or the Flourishing 
Young Trader. 

In the early years of the Territory and State, he was fond of 
going to Madison, where he spent his money freely, and would 
send off to borrow more. Once he borrowed of me while I was 
clerk in a. store of the American Fur Company in which Dubay 
had an interest. I subsequently asked him what his business 
was, there. "Why," said he, "I am a log member" — meaning 
a lobby member ; he liked to boast that his company at the cap- 
ital included prominent lawyers, judges, and legislators. 

Once I was reminding him that he had neglected to be pres- 
ent at a certain Chippewa treaty and secure his claim for cred- 
its to Indians. "Oh." lie replied, "I shall not be too late, for 
the payments have not all been paid: they are to be paid," he 
said, "in slant" — meaning in installments. He had, he said, 
sent his monster (remonstrance) to the Indian department, and 
lie would be all right. But he lost it. He was fond of trying to 
repeat big words, but would invariably make ridiculous work 
*>f it. 

'•See Ibid, pp. 391, 400-402. This statement of Powell is an addi- 
tion to and correction of Merrell's narrative concerning Dubay, and 
Draper's statement in a note that he was born in 1810. — Ed. 

" The name was originally DubSe. Louis was living in Green Bay 
as late* as 1836. — Ed. 


Powell's Recollections 

Dubay had a fine appreciation of Indian character. He knew 
well how to gain the confidence and the patronage of his red 
brethren, and thus acquired a considerable influence over them. 
Had he had a good education, lie would have made his mark in 
the world. 

In killing Reynolds, he was advised by lawyers that he had 
rights that he should protect, and he thought he was doing only 
what was justifiable. But he was naturally a high-toned, gen- 
erous-hearted man ; and when he came to reflect that he had 
taken the life of a fellow man. though acquitted of criminal in- 
tent, it preyed upon his mind, and he has never since been the 
man he was before. lie now (1877) resides above Stevens 

Origin and Meaning of Indian Names 

Ashkeoton (town, Brown Co.) — The Crier, name of an In- 

Assippun. or Ashippun (town, Dodge Co.) — The Raccoon. 

Brule (river, Douglas Co.) — Burnt timber; Indian word We- 
saueota, in both Menominee and Chippewa. 

Buffalo (lake, Marquette Co.) — Pesahkeoconnee, a great buf- 
falo range in early times. I never saw any buffalo in Wisconsin, 
nor have the oldest Menominee in their day. Iometah and 
others used to say that their fathers killed and drove them off. 

Butte des Morts (lake and town, Winnebago Co.) — Pahqua- 
tenohsah was the Indian word for Little Butte des Morts, mean- 
ing small mound of the dead. Maspahquatenoh is big mound of 
the dead — "nob." meaning dead. 

Embarrass (river, tributary to Wolf) — Indian word was Ok- 
quinoe Saparo, or Boating wood. The French adopted this and 
called it La Riviere s' embarrass (the river that is "embarrass- 
ed,'" or interrupted, by driftwood). 

Kekoskee (town. Dodge Co.) — Of Winnebago origin. 

Keshena (town, Shawano Co.) — The Scudding Cloud, named 
after a Menominee chief yet living, son of Josette, second chief, 
and son-in-law of Pewatenot. 

Kewaskum (town, Washington Co.) — Name of a Menominee 
Indian, The Turner: one who has power as a medicine man to 
turn things as he pleases. 

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Wisconsin Historical Society 

Kewaunee (comity and town) — A specie of duck. 

Koshkonong (town, Rock Co.) — Not Menominee; probably Po- 
tawatomi in origin. 

Manitowoc (county and town) — Place of spirits. 

Markesan (village, Green Lake Co.) — Probably a Winnebago 

Maskee — Indian word for marsh. 

Mazomanie (town, Dane Co.) — Place of iron deposits, a "Win- 
nebago word. 

Meeme (town, Manitowoc Co.) — The Pigeon. 

Menominee — thus Captain Powell spells the name. The plural 
is Omahnominewowk, or Wild Rice People, as they call them- 
selves. They still harvest wild rice in Shawano Lake and other 
lakes above, but do not use it to the same extent as formerly. 

Mishicott (town, Manitowoc Co.) — Hairy Leg. 

Mukwonago, or Maquonigo (town, Waukesha Co.) — Of Pota- 
Avatomi origin. 

Nashotah (town, Waukesha Co.) — Twin, a Potawatomi word. 

Necedah (town, Juneau Co.) — Winnebago word. 

Neosho (town, Dodge Co.) — Either Winnebago or Potawatomi 

Neshkoro (town, Marquette Co.) — Winnebago word. 

Oconomowoc (county and town) — Probably Potawatomi. 

Oconto (county and town) — The place of the pickerel. 

Okee (town, Columbia Co.) — Winnebago word. 

Ozaukee (county) — The Sauks. 

Paekwaukee, or Pakwaukea (town, Marquette Co.) — The 
Mound, a natural elevation. 

Pensaukee (river and town, Oconto Co.) — The place of the 
brant — a species of small wild geese. 

Peshtigo, properly Pasheteco (town, Marinette Co.) — Passing 
through the marsh. 

Powaaconnee — Poygan abbreviated. 

Poygan (lake, Winnebago Co.) — The threshing place (for 

Poynette (town, Columbia Co.) — Perhaps of Winnebago or- 

Poysippi vtown, Waushara Co.) — Same as Poygan, with sippi, 
(meaning river) added. 

Puckaway vlake, Green Lake Co.) — Cat Tail Flag. 


Powells Recollections 

Shawano (lake and county) — South; the eounly was named 
from the lake : Shawano, or South, Lake. I could not learn 
from the Menominee how this name was derived. Oshkosh 
once said to me that his ancestors told him a prophet from the 
South visited the Menominee, and first made his appearance 
at the Shawano Lake, proclaiming himself a prophet from the 
South; that he was going to change things generally, to reform 
their medical remedies and reform their government, and then 
they would live much longer. I am satisfied, since it has been 
explained to me about Tecumseh's brother the Prophet, that he 
was the one who came to the Menominee about 1810 and aimed 
at their reform ; and that he was the one whom Oshkosh referred 
to and described. 

Sheboygan (county and town) — Properly Chapewyaconnee, 
a Menominee word, meaning a rumbling subterranean sound, as 
if it were a spirit sound, heard in the lake at the mouth of the 
river, at that point. Solomon Juneau used to state to me that 
it w r as a Potawatomi word, and meant the place of the mermaid. 

Suamico (river, Brown Co.) — Red Sand River. 

Taycheedah (town, Fond du Lac Co.) — A Winnebago name. 

"Waucousta (town, Fond du Lac Co.) — Not a Menominee word. 

Waukesha, or Waukeshoon (county and town) — Something 
about a fox. 

Waupaca (river, county, and town) — The dawning of the 
morning. The French endeavored to give the meaning by call- 
ing it To-Morrow River. 

Waupun (town, Fond du Lac Co.) — Day-break or dawn. 

Waushara (county) — A Winnebago word. 

Wautoma (town, Waushara Co.) — Not a Menominee word. 

Wanseka (town, Crawford Co.) — A W r innebago word. 

Welaunee (town, Winnebago Co.) — A Winnebago word. 

Weyauwega (town, Waupaca Co.) — Named by Judge Doty 
after an Indian Weauweya, said to have lived there and claimed 
the country. But others said that the name of the locality came 
from Weyawaca, the grand encampment, as it was a noted In- 
dian camping place. This latter seems to me most probable. 

Winneconne (town, Winnebago Co.) — The place of the skulL 
a battleground, where some of the Sauk and Foxes were chased 
by the French and Menominee at the Butte des Morts battle. 
See ante, p. 150. 

Wyocena (tow r n, Columbia Co.) — A Winnebago word. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

By John Wallace Arndt 1 

The site on which the present city of Green Bay is built, was 
in 1824 covered with a forest of many kinds of trees and much 
underbrush, with here and there a bit of swamp. A narrow strip 
of grassland, about two hundred feet in width, extended from 
what is now Main Street along the river shore to the slough near 
Doty Street. The east side of what is now Washington Street 

1 John Wallace Arndt, son of John P. Arndt, a well-known early 
Innkeeper of Green Bay, was born at Wilkesbarre, Pa., Sept. 15, 1815. 
At the age of nine, John Wallace Arndt removed with his father to 
Green Bay, there attending school and assisting his father in trans- 
porting goods on the Fox River of Wisconsin. In 1834 he went to 
school in the East and was for a time at Yale College. He studied 
law with his brother Charles, but never was admitted to the bar, and 
settled in De Pere, where his homestead is still standing. In 1842 he 
married Mary C, daughter of Randall Wilcox. Arndt died at De Pere 
Jan. 12, 1897. In 1894 he published a pamphlet entitled The Early 
History of Green Bay and the Fox River Valley. Personal Reminis- 
censes. From this pamphlet, privately printed and now rare, we ex- 
tract and greatly condense the following narrative, which has several 
points of excellence: its intimate account of the introduction to 
Wisconsin waters, in 1825, of the Durham boat, invented in 1750 by 
Robert Durham of Bucks County, Pa. — for further details of this craft 
see R. G. Thwaites (ed.), Early Western Travels (Cleveland, Ohio, 1904 
-07), ix, p. 323; its glimpses of several important pioneer settlers in 
the Fox River valley; its detailed description of the interesting old 
Pierre Grignon house at Green Bay; and its graphic chronicle of a 
typical voyage of a Durham boat from Green Bay to Fort Winnebago 
(Portage) and return, in 1830. — Ed. 


John P. Akndt (1780-1861) 
From oil portrait by Samuel M. Brookes, in possession of the Society 

Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

-corresponds with the line where the woods and the grass met. 
This strip was a favorite camping ground for the Indians. 

A man by the name of Kelso had built a small log house, which 
he used as a dwelling and store, on the lots where the Cook 
House now stands. He afterwards moved to Wrightstown. 
There was no other building or evidence of any, north of the 
slough, except the remains of a shabbily-built barn made of 
small, round poles, near the foot of Doty Street. 

The road between Green Bay and De Pere began at the slough 
and followed the trend of the river, passed west of Pierre Grig- 
non's old house, and then about twenty feet east of John P. 
Arndt's dwelling. It then passed to the west of Judge Lawe's 
place, following the bank of the river on the same track where 
the railroad is now, until it struck the high land below Louis 
Grignon's house, where it turned up into the present road, and 
so on to De Pere. 

Destruction of an Old House 

Pierre Grignon's old house stood near the intersection of Stu- 
art and Washington streets, about two-hundred feet south of 
the slough, and the same distance from Fox River. 2 It fronted 
the west, was fifty feet square and one-and-a-half stories high, 
with its gables north and south. It was built of pine logs, hewn 
and dressed with the plane, until they lay fiat 10x12 inches. In 
laying up this timber the workmen had nicely dovetailed each 
corner, making a very close joint — in fact, this was the case 
throughout the building, great pains having apparently been 
taken to do the work well. 

The roof way very steep, covered with cedar bark, now nearly 
six inches thick. There were many layers of the cedar covering, 

2 This seems to have been the house that Pierre Grignon built, de- 
scribed as follows by his son Augustin in Wis. Hist. Colls., iii, p. 253: 
"When my father erected a new house, about 1790, he had to send to 
Montreal for a carpenter and mason; his house was a hewed log build- 
ing, and at that time was regarded as altogether the best at Green 
Bay." It was probably in this house that Pierre Grignon's widow 
(Madame Langevin) died in 1823. See references to this place in Id, 
xx, passim. — Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

showing that it had frequently been repaired without removing 
the old bark. 

The upper floor was supported by heavy beams, 12x14 inches 
in size, crossing the building east and west, four feet apart, and 
dressed with an inch bead worked on the lower corners. The 
floors were all made of two-inch pine plank, dressed, plowed, 
and grooved. All of the partitions were dressed in the same way, 
but on both sides. There were two chimneys, one on each gable, 
built of limestone and flush with the outside of the timbers, show- 
ing the stone from top to base. The fireplaces were high and 
broad, projecting well into the room, and could easily take in a 
four-foot log. 

The first floor of the house was divided into four rooms be- 
sides a vestibule, in the following manner : A 25x30 feet room 
was in the southwest corner ; on the east side of this large room 
were two bedrooms, 15x15 feet square, opening into it. The 
kitchen was a large room in the northeast corner, with a door 
opening to the east, also an inner door entering the vestibule on 
the west side. The main entrance to the house was through this 
vestibule, in the northwest corner, where also was the stairway 
and a door leading into the large front room. In this latter 
room was one of the fireplaces, also two triangular closets, one 
in its northeast, and the other in the southwest corner, made 
of pine ; each with four doors, two below and two above. The 
two upper doors of each closet were ornamented with a carving 
in demi-relief, representing the royal insignia of France — the 
fleur-des-lis. How meritorious the carving w r as w 7 hen first made, 
I cannot tell. It was not protected with paint or varnish; old 
age had dimmed its outlines and dulled its sharp relief. Yet 
there was enough left to show what it Avas intended to represent. 
It is a pity these doors were lost, for they never can be dupli- 

Over the main entrance of the house was a portico, which 
showed considerable artistic taste and skill. The windows were 
but few and small. The upper story was without divisions, 
save the supports of each rafter; there were two windows in the 
north gable, on each side of the chimney. 

This old house with its surroundings and the farm on which it 
stood, plainly showed the intelligence and enterprise of the man 
who planned and built it. Across the road, west of the house, 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

stood the store, a well-constructed building, 20x30, two stories 
high. Nearer the river, a few rods west, were the ruins of an- 
other building, probably a storehouse. About fifty feet north 
•of the house was a building larger than the store, built in the 
same style as the house, two stories high, and divided into two 
rooms, which undoubtedly were used for storing grain and pro- 
visions. A large square garden of about two acres southeast of 
the house was enclosed by a fence beginning at the southwest 
corner, running south on a line with the house, then turning east 
.and north — the north fence meeting the house near its middle 
on the east side. The fence was seven or eight feet high, built 
of cedar posts eight feet apart, a rabbet being made on each 
side of the pest, and shakes of cedar filled the space ; a cap or 
coping was secured on top with tenon and mortise. North of 
the house, and on a line with the west front, was a fence similar 
to that of the garden and extending to the slough.- In this fence 
and close to the house was placed a large gateway, with a smaller 
one on the side, through which the road passed to the barns at 
the east. 

A few rods east of the garden was a large barn which stood 
with its gables north and south, nearly a hundred feet long, 
thirty feet wide, and eighteen or twenty feet to the plate, with 
three bays, two threshing floors, and four sets of double doors. 
It was built entirely of cedar except the roof, which was made 
with tamarack poles and thatched with straw. The same plan 
was used as in building the garden fence, only the timber wa3 
much larger; massive cedar trees were used for posts, but set 
farther apart, the plates and other timber used being much 
larger. It was an immense barn; I think it would have stored 
five or six hundred tons of hay, and remained standing several 
years after we moved here. 

About a hundred feet east of the barn, and at a right angle, 
was the horse and cow stable, built in the same fashion as the 
home buildiugs, of hewn pine but thatched with straw. Around 
these buildings was the accumulation of forty years or more of 
rotten straw and manure, covering more than an acre and in 
some places four or five feet thick. It took father a long time 
to remove and spread it on the farm, a part of which he rented 
and cultivated many years. The cleared and cultivated part 
of the farm at that time extended from a point a little north of 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

Doty Street south to Judge Lawe's north line, and east to Van 
Buren Street and Webster Avenue. 

Before we leave the old house and garden, so familiar to me 
in early youth, I will relate my connection with it. In 1825 
father rented the garden, together with the farm, and from that 
time to the platting of Astor he used it for his family. Here 1 
served my apprenticeship in gardening. The house being much 
out of repair, was used only at short intervals during the sum- 
mer and by a worthless set, which caused some sacrilegious per- 
son to dub it the "Nunnery." Over on Duck Creek, where he 
spent his winters, making shingles and cutting cord wood, was 
a discharged soldier named Marsdon, who was married to a 
squaw; when a white man took a squaw to wife he took the 
whole family, sisters, brothers-in-law, aunts, and cousins. In 
summer, Marsdon and his numerous family moved to the city, 
the females not liking the loneliness of rural life. Without 
leave or license they took possession of this old house. 

This sounded the knell of the once grand old house. Father 
purchased it with the privilege of tearing it down. My brother 
Charles and I, with men to help us, began the work of destruc- 
tion. Our plan was first to remove the supports to the roof, as 
far as we thought it safe to the workmen ; then we undermined 
the chimneys, so that when the roof fell it would carry them 
with it. This part of the work being done we awaited the re- 
sult. The roof being covered with so many layers of cedar bark, 
had become rotten and porous and absorbed water like a sponge. 
In a few days a storm came, a regular northeaster; the wind 
blew and the rain poured on that devoted roof, and in the 
darkness of night the crash came, carrying destruction with it. 
The ruin was complete ; nothing remained standing but a part 
of the outside walls. 

Could these walls have spoken, they would have told of de- 
liberate councils held within, debating the chances of peace or 
war, of trade and commerce. They would have told of festive 
scenes, the table loaded with fish, flesh, and fowl, gathered by 
the hunters' skill from the river, lake, and forest. They would 
have told, too, of music and the dance, so dear to the gay and 
festive Frenchmen. Thither came native chiefs and warriors; 
white men also, for trade and profit ; others for the mere love 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

of exploration — men wise in council, strong in war, who led that 
host of savages who surprised and defeated Braddock. 3 

American Pioneers 

In 1624, when father first landed on the shores of Fox River,* 
he was just forty-two years old, in full health and strength of 
body and mind, well equipped for the labor he wished to under- 
take. From the early age of eighteen years, until his father's 
death (in 1802) he had been connected with him in business — 
milling, lumbering, merchandizing, and other occupations, such 
as building Durham boats. The last-named industry made a 
large and for many years a successful business. Grandfather 
Arndt was a shrewd and intelligent man ; he knew how to make 
money, how to keep and to use it. His firm took the lead in 
Wilkesbarre, Luzern County, Pennsylvania. After his death, 
his only son and heir w T as my father, who took full control of 
the business and was successful until the crisis of 1815-16, and 
its crash. Thus he brought with him to this region the experi- 
ence of more than twenty years of business success and failure. 

Father was much interested in the navigation and improve- 
ment of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. The project was much 
discussed among the few leading business men — James Doty, 
Daniel Whitney, the two Irwin brothers, John Lawe, the Grig- 
nons, and some others. This was the beginning of the Fox 
River Company, to demonstrate the feasibility of freighting on 
the Fox River in its natural state, in a reasonable time, and at 
a fair profit. 

In the spring of 1825 father built the first Durham boat, 
ecpiipped and loaded it with a stock of goods for Fever River 
(now Galena), where a store was opened, The plan was to 
purchase lead, and transport it to Green Bay by the way of the 
Wisconsin and Fox rivers, thereby opening another outlet for 
the lead to the Eastern market. 

8 Referring to the well-known tradition that Charles Langlade, father- 
in-law of Pierre Grignon, led the Indians in the fatal attack on Brad- 
dock in 1755 — 'many years, however, before this house was built. — Ed. 

4 For a brief biographical sketch of John P. Arndt see Wis. Hist. 
Colls., xx. — Ed. 

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This business was put in charge of a man by the name of 
Abbot, a good business man, one who knew all about Durham 
boats. He had been in father 's employ at Wilkesbarre for many 
years. After a year's trial the project was given up, the whole 
difficulty being in navigating the Wisconsin; the Fox was all 
right. Though the first attempt was a partial failure, nothing 
daunted, the boat building went on. 

Treaty of Butte des Morts 

In 1827 a commission was appointed, headed by Lewis Cass, 
governor of Michigan. The commissioners located the treaty 
at Little Butte des Morts, just where the Chicago & Northwest- 
ern railroad turns on the west bank to cross Lake Butte des 
Morts to Menasha. This had been a favorite cemetery for the 
Indians, but most of it has since been removed to make room 
for the railway. At the time of the excavations, many curi- 
osities were found, such as stone and copper axes, arrow heads, 
spears or lance heads, and heaps of bones. In preparation for 
the treaty, there was planted on the apex of this mound a tall 
fiag-staff, from which floated the stars-and-stripes. 

The buildings for the governor and his suite were placed near 
the mound, while the camps of the different tribes were situated 
some distance from headquarters. Those natives friendly to 
one another were by themselves; those disposed to be quarrel- 
some were placed apart from the peaceful, for fear some old 
feud might be revived. The Indian neither forgets nor forgives. 

These small native encampments presented a novel sight to 
the stranger, in the neatness with which they were built and 
the ingenuity displayed in the use of scant material. A few 
small poles stuck in the ground were covered with rush mats 
or dressed skins, a hole being left in the top for the smoke to 
escape. Such wigwams were warm, comfortable, and dry. It 
was a unique sight, this city built almost in a day on the banks 
of a beautiful lake, surrounded by the primeval forest sweep- 
ing around it in a circle three or four miles deep. There were 
tribes from the north and south, the east and the west, speak- 
ing their various tongues and dressed each in their peculiar 
costumes. And in their center was the flag-staff. 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

Robert Irwin and my father had obtained the contract for 
furnishing and delivering on the treaty grounds all provisions, 
together with all necessary buildings, including quarters for 
the governor and suite, which numbered in all about eighty 
persons. The contractors furnished beds and bedding, chairs, 
tables with their crockery and glassware. The food and lux- 
uries necessary to satisfy this motley crowd were a wonder to 
behold. The quantity was considerable, and in quality the 
best that the government money could purchase. Of liquor there 
was also an abundant store, both from still and press. 

In securing the contract with the United States. Irwin was 
the political power behind the throne: but father was equipped 
for the business in material and appliances, and a thorough 
knowledge of the situation. His boats furnished the transpor- 
tation, and his saw-mill the lumber for the treaty buildings. 
The goods and supplies were stored in his warehouse at Green 
Bay, and prepared for transportation to the treaty ground. 
In this undertaking the Durham boats were in constant use, 
and people wondered at the ease with which they seemed to 
solve the problem of navigating the Fox. 

Description of the Durham Boat 

The Durham boat had long been used on the Delaware and 
Susquehanna rivers, which are somewhat similar to the Fox, 
being interrupted by rapids and shallow water. The boat was 
of simple build, carrying a large load with light draft, and 
passing easily through the water. Generally they were from 
forty-five to sixty feet in length, ten to twelve feet beam, two 
and one-half feet deep, drawing eighteen to twenty inches, and 
carrying from twenty-five to thirty tons of freight. 

The bottom was constructed of \V-r inch oak plank, with one 
streak above the bend; above this to the gunwale, pine was 
used. The timbers of the' frame were of oak, 3x3^ inches, 
steamed and bent, or worked out of natural crooks ; oak beams 
4x5 inches were placed athwart the boat eight or nine feet 
apart, and made to crown or arch four or five inches. The 
waist began about eight feet from the stern and extended per- 
fectly straight to within eight feet of the bow. The sheer be- 

13 [187 ] 

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gan at these two points, fore and aft, raising the stem and stern 
a. few inches above the waist. The boat was sharp at both 
ends, which were decked over to the waist, where the walking 
board began, and ran the whole length of the waist. The walk- 
ing board was about fourteen inches wide ; combings 2x4 inches 
were secured to the inner side to give it strength and increase 
the freeboard. 

For the first boats that father built, he had much trouble 
and expense in procuring the right kind of lumber. They re- 
quired plank from twenty to thirty feet long, both pine and 
oak. His mill was not yet arranged to saw such long lumber, 
so he resorted to the whip saw. The timber was cut the proper 
lengths, hewn on two sides, and by the use of two men and a 
whip saw made into lumber. However, as the demand for boats 
increased, he soon remedied this lack. He built boats not only 
for his own use but for other parties; several for the American 
Fur Company, Daniel Whitney, and others. The manufacture 
of these craft soon grew into a large business, and gave em- 
ployment to many men; it continued until the improvement of 
the Fox River commenced. 

The steering oar was the novelty of the boat, hewn from a 
pine tree twenty feet long and large enough to make a blade 
twelve inches wide and three or four feet long. The pivotal 
point was about eleven feet from the end of the blade; the 
stock so arches to this point that when the boat was loaded 
the handle of the oar would be three feet above the deck. At 
this pivotal point a slotted mortise was made to receive a l 1 /^ 
inch iron pin driven into the head of the stern post, on which 
to hang the oar. The oar was now put in place, dressed and 
thinned until it was in balance, so that it would work easily in 
all necessary directions. The principal propelling power was 
the socket pole, with a good, strong man at the other end of it. 
This pole was made of the best and toughest white ash fifteen 
feet long, 1% inches in its largest part, and tapering to IV2 
inches at the top, on this being placed a button, to ease the 
pressure on the shoulder. The pocket was of iron, armed with 
a square steel point, well-tempered and kept sharp. The ordi- 
nary oar was seldom used, although one for each man was pro- 
vided in case of need. A mast, sail, and oilcloths were a part 
of the outfit, beside a heavy block and tackle and a long tow- 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

line. Thus equipped the boat was a complete innovation at 
the time of its introduction on the Fox River. 

The French trader with his bateau drawing over two feet of 
water, carrying ten or twelve tons of freight, propelled with 
oars or small hand poles by a. crew of ten or twelve men, 
who stopped every three miles to smoke their pipes and rest, 
looked on this big boat with doubting eyes. "It is too big," 
"Cannot get her over the rapids," "Takes too many men," 
"Costs too much" — such were the criticisms. That long oar 
perched upon the stern gave them much trouble and anxiety. 
"Oh! you will soon take that tiling off the stern and put two 
or more Frenchmen with their small handy poles there, to steer 
your boat." It was knowledge perfected by experience against 
ignorance and prejudice. The prophets failed. The Durham 
boat won the prize and kept it until the river was improved 
and the steamboat took its place. 

A Trip on the Fox River 

The time chosen to make this imaginary trip will be in the 
month of June, 1830. By that time the transportation busi- 
ness was well-established and systematized. We had learned 
the best, quickest, most economical way in which to conduct it. 
Our men were drilled and understood their work. I had this 
season been promoted to the captaincy of my first boat, with 
all the power, emoluments, and honors that that position gave. 
Although a few years later I was appointed captain of a militia 
company belonging to Col. Samuel Ryan's regiment, I think 
I was prouder of my first command than of my second. The 
boatmen were better drilled than the soldiers, and I knew more 
about running a boat than a militia company. 

Let us go to John P. Arndt's warehouse, standing on Point 
Pleasant on the riverside fronting his dwelling, and see how the 
goods were prepared for transportation. As they had to be 
handled a. number of times in transit, rolled or carried over 
rough and difficult places on ladders placed along the shore, it 
■was necessary to have the packages of such weight that two or 
three men could handle them easily without breakage or dam- 
age, thereby saving both time and money. The freightage be- 
ing paid by the hundred pounds, we paid the teamster in the 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

same way for hauling the goods over the portage. Therefore 
it became necessary to weigh each package and mark thereon 
the weight. They were then checked on the wagons and a re- 
ceipt given of the weight of each load, to avoid any misunder- 

The boat is to be loaded today, so that we can make an early 
start tomorrow morning, thus arriving at the Grand Kaukauna 
landing a couple of hours before dark. Seven men compose my 
crew, for my boat is large and heavily loaded. Six is the ordi- 
nary crew, beside the captain or steersman. Everything is 
ready, cast off the lines and let her go. Each pole is quickly 
set, the button placed on the big muscles of the neck and shoul- 
ders, which soon become callous and give no pain. 

A three-mile gait of the polemen moves the boat at each set a 
little more than its length, which gives, in ordinary water, a 
speed of over three miles an hour. 

It requires as much skill and tact to handle the pole and get 
all there is in it of force as a propeller, as to use the oar. No- 
tice how the men set and handle their poles — those on the left 
side of the boat grasp theirs with their right hand just below 
the button (the socket being in the water), and with a twist of 
the wrist and the help of the right knee the pole is thrown into 
the right position. The button is then brought to the shoulder 
and the force applied. This is done so quick and deftly that 
it seems like one motion. Upon reaching the stern of the walk- 
ing board the poleman quickly rises, gives the pole a twist to 
• disengage it from the bottom, and at the same time turns and 
grasps it with his left hand, walks to the bow and sets again. 
They must all set together and at the same time. The disen- 
gaged hand is always ready to grasp anything in its reach, 
either to increase the force of the push, or save oneself from 
going overboard if the pole should slip on the bottom. The 
skill and judgment of the steersman keep the boat parallel with 
the stream, and avoid a sideway motion ; that would crowd the 
poles on one side, and be too far off on the other. When this 
happens the men break their hold and have to set again, which 
causes confusion. 

While the crew are forwarding the boat, let us look at our 
surroundings. The sloping banks on either side, extending to 
higher land bevond, divided into alternate strips (woods and 


0> M 

Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

cultivated land), and the French claims granted to the first 
settlers some years ago by the right of occupation. They are 
from two to five or six acres wide and extend back from the 
river eighty acres or more. Their owners have cleared 
and cultivated just enough to supply their present wants, leav- 
ing the original forest on either side. All that each Frenchman 
wanted was a narrow strip of land on the river front, where 
he could catch his fish (which he called his pork barrel), and 
the forest behind for wood and timber. On his cleared land he 
raises potatoes, wheat, oats, and other grain, while with gun 
and rod he supplies the rest of his provender whether of fish, 
flesh, or fowl. 

That house which we are passing, a few rods from the river 
shore, is the residence of Jourdain, a blacksmith, whose shop is 
just north of the house. He is an old settler and a very worthy 
one, father-in-law of the Rev. Eleazer Williams. 

Next comes John Lawe's point. The platform there erected 
is used to dry lyed corn, which is the food of his employees. He 
is one of the old settlers, one of the few influential men of this 
region. You can see from his dwelling, garden, parks, and out- 
houses how he lives in patriarchal style like the old Dutchmen 
on the Hudson River, a hundred and fifty years or more ago. 

Here is another point, called that of Louis Grignon, on which 
is an old storehouse. Forty or fifty rods east, on an elevation, 
is his dwelling, an old house in the style of buildings built about 
seventy or eighty years before. He, too, is an old settler, born 
here and belonging to one of the oldest families. A few rods 
south of this dwelling, and close to the south line of the farm, 
is the schoolhouse — on Louis Rouse's farm, whose house is a 
few rods south. I went to school here for a short time, the 
teacher being Captain Cnrlis, afterwards succeeded by A. G. 
Ellis. 5 

The bank here takes a sudden rise, forming a steep descent 
from the road above to the water's edge, and covered with a 
heavy growth of trees and underbrush. This continues some 
distance up the river, where it descends to a low but narrow 

e For documents on early schools at Green Bay, see Id, xii, pp. 453- 
465; see also Ellis's "Recollections," Id, vii, pp. 228-231, 234-236.— Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

table-land, breaking the monotony of the view and lending 
beauty to the scene. 

Observe a house on that low bank near the river's shore. 
There once lived a man, owner of the neighboring farm, named 
Beauprey. 6 He was a trader in the olden time and died a 
singular death from the excessive use of green tea. He be- 
came so fond of it that he drank it night and day, and even 
ate the grounds. Of this excess he died, and singular to tell, 
his complexion changed to a deep tea-green. 

The river is now widening. We are entering the suburbs 
of what is known as "Shanty Town." This settlement is due 
to a mistake on the part of a United States officer in locating 
the troops in the wrong place — Camp Smith. A mile or more 
away, to the southeast, on that higher elevation, two or three 
buildings still remain of the old camp. This camp started the 
boom of "Shanty Town," which is built on the west side of the 
second plateau near its brink — the shanties are of one story 
with a basement ; all kinds of material were used in their con- 
struction, and no particular style of architecture. However, 
they answered the purpose for which they were built, and when 
no longer of use were left to time and decay. Daniel "Whitney, 
the Irwins, and William Dickinson had built better, substantial, 
comfortable dwellings and stores. The glory of this inland city 
has gone into history. It was doomed when the order came 
to move the soldiers from Camp Smith. 7 

Push on. The scene is about the same, although the forest 
is more dense and approaches nearer to the water's edge. The 
river is fast widening. We are approaching the site of the old- 
est mission in the Northwest. The Jesuit mission of Rapides 
des Peres was established by Father Claude Allouez in 1669. 
Three or four small modern buildings mark the place where 
that heroic priest preached the gospel to the benighted Indians. 

A new and bolder scene now presents itself. Higher and 
more abrupt banks reach the margin of the river, covered with 
a heavier growth of forest trees, dipping their pendent limbs in 
the fast-flowing stream. The stream is not as straight as it 
was below; the jutting points are more prominent and look as 

' For a sketch of this person see Id, xix, p. 364, note 10. — Ed. 
' For this episode see Id, xx, and references therein cited. — Ed. 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

though they barred the way. "We turn the point, and other 
headlands appear, each with a beauty of its own. 

The current now grows stronger; the Little Kaukauna is 
near. That long, narrow, low-lying island which you see to 
the right, is the home of the Rev. Eleazer Williams. He has 
a considerable tract of land west of his dwelling, given to him 
by the Oneida Indians, who were located here a few years ago. 
Here are the rapids known as Little Kaukauna, sometimes very 
difficult to pass. If the river is high we can push through that 
short canal to the right, which was a flume or waste weir. At 
an early date the United States built a mill here, but owing to 
a faulty construction of the dam, which soon gave way, it was 
abandoned. 8 As the river is about at the right stage, a few 
quick and vigorous shoves of the poles Avill soon take us through 
that quick-running mass of troubled water. 

Well done, my gocd and gallant crew! The halfway stake 
is passed, and not half the day gone. Moor the boat and rest 
a spell while we lunch and refresh the inner man. The time 
is up and we proceed. The only change in the general land- 
scape is the receding of the high bank from the river, leaving 
along the shore long narrow strips of low land. The same 
dense forest crowds to the water's edge. 

Note those hieroglyphics on the oak trees that stand leaning 
over the water. They are made to represent a deer, and some- 
times the hunter in the act of firing his gun. They record the 
hunter's success in the chase. There are hundreds of them all 
along the shores, many of them well executed and painted with 
vermillion. In June, when the deer are in the red, and seek the 
water, the Indian places a torch in the bow of his canoe with 
a screen behind which he hides gnu in hand ready to shoot, 
while his companion slowly and noiselessly poles and manages 
the canoe. The deer is an inquisitive animal ; the. light at- 
tracts his attention, he approaches and falls an easy victim 
to the cunning of the hunter. 

Here is Apple Creek, a small stream putting in from the 
west : the high bank on the east side is receding from the shore, 
showing a widening strip of low and level land. Then comes 
Plum Creek, quite a large stream ; and there is the second house 

See Id, vii, p. 229.— Ed. 

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that we have seen since we left De Pere. It is occupied by Hoel 
S. Wright, a shrewd Yankee who keeps a store and trades with 
the Indians for furs and will put up any belated traveler who 
happens along. 

Among the Rapids 

We are now approaching Rapides des Croches, a difficult place 
to pass. Here at this short turn of the river, the water runs 
swift and deep over a bottom of smooth rock and large boul- 
ders, some of whose tops come near the surface and are not easily 
avoided. This makes the poling bad, since the poles slip on the 
smooth rock and the poleman is liable to be thrown overboard. 

This place has a history. It was neutral ground between two 
hostile tribes, the Winnebago and Menominee. Here in times 
past they met and tried to settle their differences and to trade. 
The Winnebago had wild rice to exchange. This grew in great 
abundance along the lakes and rivers in their possession. The 
Menominee built bark canoes and were willing to barter these 
for rice and other things. The Winnebago craft Mere nothing 
but clumsy and ill-built dug-outs that did not properly serve 
them for the gathering of rice and fish on their large lakes, and 
travelling on their many rivers. The Winnebago desired to 
possess canoes, and I suspect that the Menominee always got 
the best of the bargain. 

From here to the Grignon landing, the poling is much easier 
than below, since the current is less swift. As we ascend, the 
banks on either side are increasing in height. The forest still 
dominates the scene, and is densest on the eastern slope. 

The Great Kaukauna 

We are now approaching a panoramic scene of high lands 
clothed in primitive forest, sweeping around from north to 
south, then toward the western heights, then north to oppo- 
site the starting point on the eastern bank — making a circuit 
of seven or eight miles and enclosing one of the most beautiful 
and picturesque scenes on the lower Fox. Through this re- 
gion of glades and meadows, gentle slopes or abrupt ascents, 
the river comes rolling and tumbling along from the westward 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

over and around the great rocks, fretting and foaming as though 
in anger at the obstructions it meets; but at last it turns to the 
north in quiet and peace, forming a lake in which in the proper 
season thousands of fish appear — in numbers almost equalling 
the leaves on the forest trees. The strong rapids above barring 
their way, they crowd in masses so dense that the spearsmen 
seldom miss their aim; hence the Indian name Kaukauna, which 
means enough, plenty. 9 

This part of the valley is owned in partnership by Augustin 
Grignon and John Law T e. The first or lower landing belongs 
to the former ; the upper, about one and one-half miles higher, 
to Lawe. That cluster of buildings about a mile away north- 
westward sheltered by the hills, is Augustin Grignon 's resi- 
dence. His dwelling, outhouses, store, barns, and stables are in 
the olden style, and his farm is cultivated and managed in the 
primitive mode of the last century. Born and raised at Green 
Bay, he has spent all his life in the Indian trade, and in later 
years this has been his principal trading post. He has a beau- 
tiful place and the part he uses for the farm is under a good 
state of cultivation, notwithstanding the old style. 

Here our agent has everything in readiness for tomorrow's 
portage ; the men and teams will be on hand by daylight. No- 
tice the men unloading the boat. Goods liable to be injured 
by rain are put in a pile by themselves and covered w 7 ith oil 
cloths. Those not requiring such protection are placed in an- 
other pile, so that they can be hauled first by the teams and 
stowed in the bottom of the boat, and the other goods placed 
on top to keep them dry in case some accident should happen 
among the rocks and the boat spring a leak. In such an emer- 
gency we beach the boat, unload, and repair damages. 

An Indian Village 

The men have unloaded the boat, protected the piles of freight 
from rain, and pitched the tents. Supper is eaten before the 
sun goes down, and then we smoke a pipe and gaze at the 
beautiful scene surrounding us. Look to the east, a mile away 
over the moving water. See that sloping hill extending a mile 

•Usually interpreted as "a fishing ground for pickerel." — Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

or so along the shore, reached at an easy angle from the beach. 
A distance of more than a thousand feet has been terraced and 
forms a succession of broad plateaus on which the Indians have 
built in irregular lines their huts and wigwams, utilizing every 
available space for the cultivation of corn, potatoes, and other 
vegetables. It is a typical Indian village, with its terraced 
farms extending in long lines along the slope, dotted at irregular 
intervals with their quaint and picturesque dwellings. 

Let us now retire to our tent and sleep, for we have before 
us the greatest obstacle of the whole trip to overcome — rapids 
■of fifteen miles, with very little slack water between. 

When we reach Lake Winnebago we will be a hundred and 
forty or a hundred and fifty feet above the level of our present 
night camp. This is to be overcome by the skill, brawn, and 
muscle of about thirty men, wading and dragging the boat by 
main force against a strong current that will continue most 
of the way. The extra men are to be obtained from that In- 
dian village on the slope beyond. This has been their busi- 
ness ever since Fox River boating commenced; they have 
learned the method and many of them are good pilots who can 
take command of the boat and push her through. 

Here is the dawn of another day. The cook is preparing the 
morning meal, the Indians are launching their canoes to cross 
the river, and I can hear the squeak of home-made carts as 
they are driven down the road from Grignon's farm. In these 
primitive vehicles no iron is used save the tire, and often not 
even that ; they surely need no horn to signal their approach. 

The men are preparing the boat for a start, and the teams 
are loading. I leave one trusty man here with the agent, who 
will check the goods on to the wagons and when loaded follow 
them to the upper landing, and then return to check and un- 
load again. Another man cares for the remaining goods. I 
also send another along with the teams to guard the goods when 
delivered at the upper landing where they are reloaded on to the 

The tents are struck and put on the boat for fear we may not 
reach the Grand Chute before night. In that case we will have 
to camp, for we can not run the rapids after dark. It is but 
eight miles from Kaukauna to the Grand Chute. If we have 
an hour and a half or two hours of daylight after arriving at 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

the latter, we can unload and run the boat back to Kaukauna 
tonight. That depends on how soon the teams will haul 
enough freight to load the boat to suit the present stage of 
water. A half hour's delay here may make a difference of 
nearly a day in the rapids. I have directed the agent to hurry 
up the teams. 

The boat and crew are now ready for a start. That tall, fine- 
looking Indian at the bow is Blacksmith' , my pilot, and he is 
one of the best on the river. His only fault is that like the 
rest of the race, he is too fond of whiskey. 

Notice how the water has here spread out, forming a small, 
shallow lake; but on the other side in the bight, or bend of the 
bay, it is much deeper. The roar of the waters as they 
rush down the rapids is much louder. You will soon see, as 
well as hear, the turmoil as they plunge down an incline of 
nearly forty feet in a little more than a mile. 

Now comes the struggle of man with the physical forces of 
nature. The steering oar is unshipped ; the mast is lashed 
across thei boat to one of the beams, ten or twelve feet from 
the bow ; the tow-line is made fast on one side, the same dis- 
tance from the bow, and coiled ready for use. The men now 
arrange themselves around the boat. The pilot is at the bow, 
with his arm around the projecting point of the stem, where 
he has a good purchase; there are two or three behind him 
on either side, to assist in changing the direction of the boat; 
two or more are placed at the mast, where it projects beyond 
the boat ; the rest take their positions along the sides. They 
have a good hold on the inner side of the walking board, to lift, 
push, or hold on. 

The water varies in depth from about two feet to four, and 
the rocky bottom is very uneven. Notice how the men cross with 
the boat from one side of the river to the other. They do not 
turn and point the bow straight for the other shore. The craft 
must be kept parallel with the trend or course of the stream. 
If in a very still current, with rocks protruding here and there, 

"For this Indian, whose aboriginal name was Wistweaw, see ante; 
also Wis. Hist. Colls., xi, pp. 399, 400. Mrs. Kinzie calls him "the most 
accomplished guide through the difficult passes of the river;" see her 
Waubun, passim. — Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

the boat should take a swing and the men lose control of it, it 
would either fill with water and capsize, or becoming a perfect 
wreck endanger the lives of the crew. The pole lashed across 
the bow is a great help in such cases; one man alone can do 
what it would take four or five to accomplish by other means. 

Here the river runs north of east, and at the foot of the rapids 
makes a big turn to the north. We are going up on the 
north side of an island, formed by a small outlet on the south. 
The island is covered with timber, mostly red cedar. 

The Stockbridge Mission 

Here we are safe and sound, moored at the upper landing 
in a little pool or eddy formed by a wing-dam made by Augus- 
tin Grignon to run a grist-mill which for many years he used 
frequently. To the south you have a view of part of the Stock- 
bridge settlement. On that interval of low-lying land between 
the river and the hill to the south, are several dwellings ex- 
tending up and down the river for one or two miles. These 
belong to the Presbyterian Mission, of which the Rev. Mr. Miner 
has charge. 11 His dwelling, out-houses, and other necessary 
structures are about the centre of the tract. The situation is a 
pleasing one — the river in front, backed by the green hills and 
the towering forest, with intervening farms and dwellings. 

The Stockbridges are both physically and intellectually a 
much finer race than the other New York Indians. They are 
more civilized, live more like the whites, and show less of the 
Indian in their character and habits. Their dwellings are bet- 
ter built, their farms better cultivated, and all their surround- 
ings show more brains, thrift, and enterprise. Their farms 
extend about four miles, from Kaukauna to the Cedars, well 
banked from the river, for the frontage of the stream is much 
broken in places; their land is well timbered and of heavy 

" For documents on the Stockbridge mission, see Wis. Hist. Colls., 
xv, pp. 39 ft, including the papers of the Rev. Jesse Miner. — Ed. 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 


The teams have arrived with their loads — eight of them, 
which means between seven and eight tons. We will hurry 
and unload the wagons, and in about two hours be ready to 
start for the Grand Chute. 

Wei soon take the stream, the water reaching to the knees 
and often to the waist, as it rushes foaming past. With a death- 
like grip the men cling to their hold, and step by step force 
the boat against the swift-running current. True to his in- 
stinct, the pilot motions with his hand the direction to take, 
straight ahead or to the right or left, always careful to keep 
the boat in line with the current. 

We are now passing Daniel Whitney's potashery. This is 
one of the enterprises that he has carried on for a number 
of years in places where ashes could be obtained. When the 
Stockbridges located here he opened a store and building an 
ashery induced them to save all the ashes they made, either in 
their dwellings, or from log heaps they burned in clearing their 
farms. As the timber was very heavy and mostly of hard 
wood, a large quantity of the best ashes were obtained and con- 
verted into potash at a good profit to Mr. Whitney and to the 
great benefit of the Indians. 

Here for more than a mile the river is deep and the current 
swift and strong. The banks are broken by gulches on either 
side. The higher land advancing and receding at short inter- 
vals, leaves but small strips of low or meadow land, so that the 
location on the river bank is not as desirable and pleasant here 
as below Kaukauna. For this reason the Indians have built 
their dwellings and opened their farms back from the river. 
It is only now and then you catch a sight of their homes, their 
clearings seldom reaching the stream. 

The Little Chute, a little over three miles from Kaukauna, is 
not a difficult point to pass — the lift of the rock is only eighteen 
or twenty inches, and as the river widens some the flow is 
lessened. At the place we pass up, the rock has been cut away, 
to render it more easy to pass up or down. 

Wcare now passing a low, open glade on our right, with a 
high bold bank to the left, which is called the Cedars. Why it 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

is so called I cannot tell, for the timber is hard wood — white 
and black oak, of the finest growth, tall and straight. 

The poling is good, although the current is strong but lessen- 
ing as we progress, for the still water is near. When we pass 
that bold jutting point to the right Ave will enter a placid 
stream, languidly moving along as if fatigued with its struggle 
over the rocks above and forgetful of the obstructions below. 
The change is sudden from the noise and turmoil of the water 
as it rushes among the rocks below, to the stillness of this gentle 
stream as it flows with scarce a ripple on its smooth surface. 
As we pass along up the stream we catch the echo of rushing 
water tumbling from obtruding rocks, low at first but louder 
as we advance, until the whole scene bursts upon us of a wide, 
mad river falling four feet over a perpendicular rock, and then 
rushing on for more than a mile over hidden and protruding 
rocks until it is lashed into foam. 

The Grand Chute 

We are now approaching the Grande Roche. We will put up 
our poles and take to the water. This is the most difficult place 
on the river to pass with a loaded boat. It is similar in its 
formation to the Croche, only on a larger scale; the river is 
contracted by the west bank, forming a point, while the east 
shore is almost straight. The banks are abrupt and high, and as 
you turn the point the river spreads out into a bay towards 
the west, making a great curve to the Grand Chute above. The 
current on the east side, flowing in nearly a straight line, 
meets the flow from the curved line and causes a cross current 
that piles up the water in great confusion and makes the pas- 
sage difficult. With a smooth rock bottom and great boulders 
strewn about, many quite near the surface, with insufficient 
water above them to float the boat, it requires great care to 
guide the craft in safety through this turmoil. As the water 
is deep, often reaching to the armpits, it paralyzes half the 
strength of the men; their only safety is to cling to the boat 
and inch by inch force her through the flood. 

The roar of the Chute above, mingling with the noise of the 
fast-flowing rapids below and around, tries the strength and 
courage of the hardy boatmen, but they are equal to the task. 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

AVitli a whoop and a rush they enter the troubled water and 
breast the fearful tide; the victory is soon won, the haven is 

From here you get a front view of the whole scene — the 
Grand Chute, about a mile away, pouring its water over a rocky 
ledge. As it strikes the inclined ledge below it is beaten into 
a sea of foam, which like flakes of snow is carried down the 
stream at railroad speed. The banks around the bay are high, 
bold, abrupt, reaching to the water's edge, covered as usual 
with a heavy and thrifty growth of timber. From this camp- 
ing ground a trail leads to another above the Chute, over which 
portages were made by the earlier navigators; it leads over 
the hills to the right, a long and tedious walk, but there is no 
other path, for the bluffs along the river shore bar the way. 

Let us pass on and up, for our time is short, and we have 
much hard work to do before we reach our goal. We must 
take to the water again, for poles are useless against the strong 
current, and numerous protruding rocks strew the way. 

To the right, where the ledge starts from that high, steep 
bank, is the point where we land and unload. You can see the 
ladders laid along the shore close under the bluff, supported on 
stone, to raise them above the shallow water. These ladders 
extend a short distance above the Chute to a landing that has 
been dug out of the bluff, forming a platform large enough to 
store the goods and pitch a tent in case of need. On this side, 
also, Ave will pass the boat over the Chute, as there is a Igreater 
flow of water here than on the other side. We now unload the 
boat and leave two or three men to move the freight to the 
upper landing and look to its safety. 

The boat now being lightened, away she goes down the 
stream, with the swiftness of the wind. Notice how the pilot 
steers the boat, straight for that big boulder that seems to ap- 
proach us so rapidly. As the boat nears the rock the bow is 
raised by the piling up of the water above it, and she gracefully 
glides to one side as if making her obeisance to the passing 
rock, the pilot at the same time moving the stern in the same 
direction, which brings the boat parallel with the current. Thus 
on we go at race-horse speed from rock to rock, the shores, banks, 
and trees gliding past, while it seems as if we alone stood still. 

We are now approaching the still water, and will use the 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

oars again. The crew, to relieve the tedium of the slow pas- 
sage down this stretch of dull water, give us a lively French 
boatman's song. They use a short, quick stroke and beat the 
time with their oars. The leader first sings a line of the song 
and repeats it; then the chorus is sung by the whole crew with 
a force and strength that makes the welkin ring as the echoes 
roll back from shore to shore. 

Lay by the oars, for the rapids are near. The ripple of fast- 
flowing water is around us, the rocks seem again to be going up 
the stream, the forest flying swiftly by. We are now passing 
the Cedars; how quickly and smoothly we glide along! 

We near the Little Chute, whose roaring we now can hear. 
See the foaming crest as the water plunges over the ledge. 
Through it we rush so quickly that ere we realize where we are 
the Chute is past and far astern, the crew shouting with all 
their might at the successful plunge we made. On we speed 
like a bird on the wing; the ashery is past and we hear the 
rumbling of Kaukauna Rapids below. Our landing is reached, 
and the boat rounded to with the bow up stream, ready for her 
second load. 

Thus one day's work in the rapids is completed. We are not 
always so successful, but everything has been in our favor — the 
water at a good stage, the day long and the weather fine, with 
no rain to hinder us. Besides, I had the pick of the extra men, 
for there is no other boat in the rapids. Very low or very high 
water, short days, rain, and several boats on the river at the 
same time, combine to lengthen the time of transit and of course 
to increase the cost. 

You and I, my reader, will not ride up on the boat to-morrow, 
but walk. As soon as she leaves the landing we will start, for it 
is only eight or nine miles on a good trail, and this will take 
us about three hours. You can see the lay of the land and 
enjoy the beautiful scenery along the banks and admire the 
splendid forest trees that crown the land. I will take my gun 
along, for we may get a partridge or two, or some other game. 

We should be able to got the boat over the Grand Chute, load 
her and go into camp at the Grand Encampment before dark, 
and to-morrow reach Big Butte des Morts. We are now about 
half way to the Chute from Kaukauna ; this is a much travelled 

[ 202 ] 

Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

trail and has been used for hundreds of years by the natives 
of the region. See how deep the path is worn by the travel of 
the light-stepping savages. 

Here is the lower Grand Encampment, where we were yester- 
day, in full view of and below the Chute. The trail turns here 
to the right and follows around the bay over some deep gullies. 
There comes the boat, just through the Grande Roche. See them 
breast the stream, each man doing his best, for they know that 
this is the last long pull to reach the Chute, and their day 's work 
is nearly done. 

To unload the boat and pull her over the Chute is a short job 
with the number of men and the appliances we have. While the 
crew are unloading, the extra men will move the balance of the 
freight to the upper landing. We will then be ready to pass 
the boat over the Chute. The purchase we use is two strong 
blocks, with a suitable line. The first block is hooked into the 
ring of the eyebolt in the stem of the boat, and the tackle is 
fleeted ; the other block is made fast to that large tree above the 
Chute, which is in line with the pull. A snatch-block is also 
used, through which the fall is led that enables the men to stand 
on the shore, which gives them a better chance to pull, besides 
increasing the power of the purchase. Some of the rock has, 
for quite a space, been removed from the top of the ledge, form- 
ing an inclined plane, which increases the flow at that point, 
lessens the lift, and renders it much easier to ascend. 

The boat is now moved out to the place of ascent, the purchase 
is hooked on, and we are ready. As the strain on the purchase 
increases, the men at the bow of the boat lift all their might 
At first she moves slowly, but when she strikes the broader part 
of her bottom it aids the men to lift, and the blocks and tackle 
do the rest. Hand-over-hand, with shouts that almost drown the 
roar of the Chute, this noisy crew land the boat at the upper 
landing, which is a couple of boat-lengths above the brink of 
the falls. 

Grand Encampment 

The worst obstacle has been met and overcome. The rest 
of the journey is in comparison, but play. We have time to 
reach the upper Grand Encampment before dark. This is an 

14 [ 203 ] 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

old trading post, owned by Charles Grignon, situated on a low 
piece of land and a mile or so above the Chute, where the early 
voyagers packed their goods in passing up or down the rapids. A 
road is now being made from Kaukauna to this point, to save 
the wear and tear of the boats and also to lessen the expense in 
money and time. 

The scenery along the shores is changing. We are leaving 
the higher lands behind and entering a lower range of country ; 
the flow of the stream is slow and gradually expanding; the 
timber is not so fine, being of a more scrubby growth than 
below. We will rest here on this old camp ground in peace and 
quiet for the night, and not trouble ourselves with the cares of 

Breakfast being stowed away next morning, the tent is struck, 
the mast put in place, and we hoist the canvas and sail away 
over the bright water of this glorious river. We do not often 
have such a chance as this ; but we always take it when it comes, 
for the poling through this stretch of the river to Lake Butte 
des Morts is difficult on account of the muddy, oozy bed of the 
stream. The poles are laid aside, and the oars are now useless; 
the sail is up, the boat is on the wing, and apparently by her 
own volition she plows a broad furrow through the limpid 

Little Butte des Morts 

We are now entering Little Butte des Morts Lake — so named 
from a mound or Indian burying ground, the site of the Indian 
treaty of 1827. The beautiful lake, with a varied conformation 
of high and low lands, sweeps around in a grand circuit of 
several miles. On the east side, where the curve begins, are two 
inlets flowing from Lake Winnebago, forming a large island 
called Four Legs, the name of one of the principal Winnebago 
chiefs, who has a considerable village on the eastern end of 
the island. 12 These inlets are the Winnebago Rapids. The east 
side of the lake, as well as the island, is covered with a fine 
dense growth of timber of various kinds, while at the west and 
south, around the head of the lake, the timber is sparse and 
prairie land begins. 

"For this chief see Powell's "Recollections," ante. — Ed. 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

Winnebago Rapids 

Here we are at the foot of the "Winnebago Rapids. Take in 
the sails and man the poles. The place where we stop to unload 
a part of our cargo is an old camp-ground, a short distance above 
this to the left, on Four Legs Island. I will send a man abov$ 
to measure the water at the shoalest place, so that I can load 
the boat to suit the depth, for the depth of water she draws is 
marked on stem and stern. These rapids are not difficult to 
pass, save for the shallow places and the trouble of unloading 
and loading and making the two trips. This is the western 
branch of the rapids, where there is more water and fewer 
boulders than in the eastern. We will use the poles and not 
have to wade, unless we ground the boat on some of the shoal 
places; then we will have to take to the water to get her off. 
The water is reported at a fair stage. I will take the larger 
half of the load this time, choosing the lighter articles and those 
that will be loaded on top when we reload. 

The place where we will load our boat for the last time on 
the lower Fox, is a point formed by Lake Winnebago on one 
side and a curve or bend of the river on the other, making a 
little cove or bay, safe from the wind. It is, and has been from 
olden time, a favorite camping ground of the Indians and voy- 
ageurs in this region — a beautiful place, with banks of moderate 
height covered with verdant grass, crowned by a growth of 
grand old trees that have given shade and shelter to the 
aborigines for hundreds of years. This is the point where the 
hardy boatman abides his time to cross the lake — a harbor of 
refuge from storms that at times sweep over its water. 

Lake Winnebago 

Here we are in good time at this beautiful camping ground. 
Lake Winnebago is surrounded on the north and east by a dense 
forest, mostly of various kinds of hard wood. Beginning at 
the eastern outlet, the shores gradually rise until you reach the 
eastern side, where the banks become bluffs on a base of lime- 
stone of considerable height. This formation continues for 
several miles up the lake. Then the high lands begin to recede 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

from the shore, and the low lands gradually widen and expand 
into broad prairies at the head of the lake, and on the west side 
as far up as the Big Butte des Morts; they extend also many 
miles to the south. 

On the east end of Four Legs Island, you can see his village 
of huts, built of bark supported on poles. Some of the lodges 
are twenty feet long, ten feet wide, and seven or eight feet high, 
rounded at the top with a space for the smoke to escape. This 
is his summer camp ; here he gathers his wild rice, plants his 
corn and vegetables, dries hissfish, and hunts his summer game. 

Four Legs is one of the principal Winnebago chiefs, and in- 
fluential with his people. I first saw him in 1826, when he 
passed through Green Bay on his way to Drummond Island, 
where the British had a garrison and distributed presents to 
the various tribes tliat had been loyal to them. He was then 
accompanied by a suite of ten or twelve men and two or three 
women, and escorted by his son-in-law, a 'white man named 
Gleason, as far as Green Bay. This man Gleason 13 was a 
singular genius; undoubtedly he was a Yankee by birth, shrewd, 
cunning, always looking out for number one. He had estab- 
lished a trading post on the east side of Lake Puckaway, and 
did a fair amount of trade through the influence of his 
Indian father-in-law. His wife was neither comely nor inter- 
esting, either in figure, face, or motion; her walk was like that 
of a sailor, and their two children had the same peculiarity. 
Gleason explained it in this way: when he built his house, no 
sawed lumber was to be had for the floor, so he split the logs 
in halves, stripped the bark, and laid the round side up, which 
corrugated the floor. His wife and children walking over these 
puncheons, gave this peculiar motion to their gait. I have 
often been in the house, for our boats generally had something 
for Gleason in the shape of goods or provisions. He was one 
of father's customers, being supplied by him with goods, for 
which he gave furs in return — mostly coon skins and badger, 
these being scarce in our part of the territory. 

When Four Legs returned from Drummond Island, he was 
fitted out with a scarlet coat adorned with gilt buttons and 

,s For Luther Gleason, said to be from Vermont, see Wis. Hist. Colls., 
vli, passim; also Waubun, pp. 54, 56, 350. — Ed. 



Winnebago chief, as he appeared at the Treaty of Green Bay, 1827 
Fioni colored lithograph by James Otto Lewis 

Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

lace, and was topped by a much ornamented cocked hat. Glea- 
son, who came down while he was at the Bay, advised father 
to give the chief a suit and dinner, which he did. A sumptuous 
feast was prepared and set forth in an outhouse, and the chief 
and his companions enjoyed it without stint. Gleason was 
toast-master and dispensed ' the tea (the only beverage) with 
a princely hand befitting the son-in-law of the head-chief of a 
free and independent nation. -m 

All aboard for Big Butte des Morts. To get good poling r 
we shall have to follow the meanderings of the various bays, 
which lengthens the distance, but the wind is off shore and 
this gives us smooth water. 

How smoothly and easily the boat with her load of thirty tons 
moves along under the force of the poles. She makes about 
ninety feet at each set and rise, which will give us over thirty 
miles a day. It is about 130 miles from Big Butte des Morts to 
Fort "Winnebago, but we will make it easily in four daySj, 
weather permitting. 

Garlic Island marks about ten miles from the head of Win- 
nebago Rapids ; Big Butte des Morts, where we will camp, is 
four miles farther. This island cut quite a figure in the "War 
of 1812, being the headquarters of Col. Robert Dickson, British 
agent and superintendent of the Western tribes. 14 It is a 
beautiful island, a few rods only from the mainland, round in 
form, with a small crescent-shaped bay on the land side. There 
are no large trees upon it, but a thrifty growth of young sap- 
lings as thick as they can grow, surrounding a cleared space 
of about an acre in the centre, forming a complete windbreak 
and shelter from every storm. It is the completest camp-ground 
I ever stepped on. There is a heavy growth of long tangled 
grass, as soft and yielding as a feather bed. I wish I might 
avail myself of it tonight, but we must leave this paradise of 
camps and push on to Big Butte des Morts. 

"William Powell, in his "Recollections", ante, p. 151, states that 
Dickson's headquarters, the winter of 1813-14, were on the neighbor- 
ing mainland. But Arndt's memory appears to be confirmed by the 
fact that in Wis. Hist. Colls., xi, p. 278, is a letter by Dickson, dated 
specifically "Garlic Island"; although others of his many letters dur- 
ing the winter, in the same volume, are dated merely "Winebagoe 
Lake" or "Lac Puant". — Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

Here is our camp-ground; pitch the tent, prepare and eat 
our evening meal, and rest until the morning star warns us of 
the near approach of another day. 

Big Butte des Morts 

Big Butte des Morts was once the site of an old Indian vil- 
lage. The land is high and covered with a fine growth of tim- 
ber, with intervals of open grassy glades. The lake is of con- 
siderable extent, with its receding bays and jutting points, dot- 
ted here and there with islands of various forms, adding much 
to the beauty of the scene. 

As we pass along to where the upper Fox enters this lake, 
I will explain our commissary department. Our staple pro- 
visions consist of salt pork, flour, beans, wild rice, tea, and 
sugar, supplemented by game, fish, or fowl that we gather along 
our way. The men all know how to cook this simple fare ; the 
best one is chosen, however, and the others assist. The cooking 
is mostly done at night, soup being the favorite dish, made with 
wild rice or beans, pork, and other meat. The meat is put 
into a large camp-kettle with sufficient water, and at the right 
time the rice or beans which have been soaked during the day, 
are put in and boiled all night with a slow fire, so as not to 
burn or scorch. It will be ready for our breakfast and also for 
dinner; for supper, the meat and potatoes (if we have any) will 
be fried. We have tea at every meal, plenty of it, hot and 
well sweetened. This saves time, for all we have to do when 
we stop for breakfast or dinner is to boil the water for this 

We always travel an hour or two before breakfast, which 
gives us a good appetite and the soup is then just at the right 
temperature. We often vary this when we get a fat deer, by 
roasting a part of it during the night to supplement our break- 
fast and dinner. For our bread, we mix flour and water to the 
right consistency, with salt and a little saleratus; the dough is 
then put into a large frying pan and turned frequently until 
it is hard enough to stand on its edge without bending or break- 
ing. It is then placed on edge around the fire, supported by a 
board or a couple of sticks, near enough to brown it nicely and 
not burn ; the change from side to side is frequently made, to in- 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

sure success and bake it through and through. All of this 
cooking is done neatly and with dispatch; and all the utensils 
used are washed, wiped, and put away in a large mess chest, 
ready for use after each meal. 

The Upper Fox 

If my reader will steer the boat for a little while, I will take 
the extra pole and see if another man increases the speed. 
Hold on, you have missed the Fox, you are going up the Wolf; 
you should have turned to the left. That narrow opening 
through the weeds and grass is the upper Fox. This is a 
custom established by the early navigators of the river. When 
the boat or canoe arrives at this point, the stranger is asked to 
steer. If he misses the upper Fox, and takes to the Wolf, as 
you have done, he pays a small forfeit to the crew. This gen- 
erally is a bottle or so of wine or whiskey, deliverable on our 
arrival at Fort Winnebago. 

Now starboard your helm and run her through that narrow 
gap, and we will soon see the upper Fox. The scenery at and 
near this entrance of the river to Lake Butte des Morts would 
be tame and uninteresting if it were not for the grand sweep 
of prairie land, seen through vistas of timberland on the east; 
while on the west side it is low and swampy, backed by high 
timbered land in the distance. The current of the river is 
slow, there being but thirty feet of fall from the Portage to 
this place, about 125 miles. It is supposed to be as crooked a 
navigable river as ever was made. The Indian legend of its 
formation is something like this: 

An Indian Myth 15 

Long, long ago, soon after the beginning of things, a mon- 
strous serpent, wise and cunning, lived in the Mississippi River. 
He became dissatisfied with his home and desired to visit the 
Great Lakes. So one day in the early spring he started on hia 
journey. He first ascended Wisconsin Eiver, making a great 
noise and commotion, throwing up sand banks and making 

11 See allusion to this myth in Waubun, pp. 56, 57. — Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

shallow places, completely changing the natural flow of the 
river which before this had been a beautiful running stream 
without obstructions. "When he arrived at the Portage the 
water from the Wisconsin was flowing over it, in a northerly 
direction. The ground over which the water flowed from the 
Wisconsin w r as low and swampy, being nearly level; the water 
was shallow and ran very slow and spread over a large tract 
of country. He made his way over and through this shallow 
water until he struck a small stream flowing north. He plunged 
in and soon widened and deepened its narrow channel to ac- 
commodate his huge body and gather in the water flowing 
across the Portage and help him along on his journey. He 
worked and wormed along in many directions, seeking a better 
place to pass. At last, after many turns from north to south 
and from west to east he found the place that he thought would 
do. He soon cleared a space sufficiently large to suit him, 
and as the abundant game suited his taste he concluded to re- 
main and enjoy himself as best he might! This place is now 
called Mud Lake. 

He remained here during many moons, gorging himself with 
his favorite food, until he had consumed or driven away his 
supply. Hunger forced him to renew his journey. He now 
struck a different formation of sand, thrown up into ridges and 
hillocks, the drift of the glacial period. Of this he made short 
work, soon throwing out a long channel of considerable width 
and several miles in length which became a long narrow lake, 
called by the Indians Buffalo Lake, because the last buffalo ever 
seen in this part of the country was chased into it and drowned. 

Here the serpent remained for some time. Buffalo and deer 
were plenty and he enjoyed himself right royally. The water 
increased and formed a large lake; a high bank, or moraine, 
formed a dam and held the water back. The noise and con- 
fusion he made caused the game to leave this region. Having 
nothing to eat, he concluded to continue his journey, broke 
through the opposing bank, and he and the water rushed on to 
the next resting place, which was but a short distance below, 
where another bank intervened and barred the way for a time. 
But exerting his tremendous strength he removed the obstruc- 
tion and moved on, leaving still another lake, now called Puck- 
away, from its many reeds or rushes, of which the Indians 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

make their mats. The laud to the right, or east, being high 
and piled up in great ridges, he concluded to change his course 
to a more westerly one, for in this direction the way seemed 
more open. He therefore changed his tactics, and instead of 
going through the hillocks he went around them, steering his 
great carcass among these obstructions until he had boxed the 
compass many times. 

He now came to a different country, where the obstructions 
were more formidable, land higher, rock and stone more com- 
pact and covered with a thick growth of forest. Nothing 
daunted, he rushed on, throwing his whole strength into the 
work. He scooped out a small lake which is now called Big 
Butte des Morts; by forming this lake he had tapped another 
supply of water to help him on his way, the Wolf River. En- 
couraged by this he moved along with more vigor and force 
to greater and more herculean deeds. Another lake of greater 
extent was formed; here he sported, rolled, dove, and swam to 
his heart's content. Being wise he knew by the peculiar glim- 
mer at times in the eastern sky that his work was nearly done, 
that a large body of water lay off to the east and north, that 
the Great Lakes were near. 

He made another circuit of the lake, now called "Winnebago, 
to find the weakest part of the barrier. He chose the north- 
west portion, for there the land is lower; there he made the 
breach and scooped out a small lake below, called now Little 
Butte des Morts. After remaining there a short time, he con- 
cluded to visit Lake Winnebago again and enjoy himself. After 
a time the desire to reach the Great Lakes returned stronger 
than ever. When he returned to the outlet, Winnebago Rapids, 
he decided that he needed more water below to help him through 
the rocky stratum ; so at it he went and soon accomplished the 

On rushed, with its guide, the increased flood of water, tear- 
ing and rending the solid rock and removing the superincum- 
bent earth and thus forming the Grand Chute. On went the 
work of reformation. The Little Chute was reached ; the Grand 
Kaukauna was twisted and wrenched and the afterflow was 
left to complete the work, while the great tide swept on, left 
its mark at De Pere, and passed on wasting its strength in the 
Great Lakes. Subsequent! v the great fabulous serpent was 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

swept over Niagara and perished ingloriously in its turbulent 

The Lakes of Fox River 

We are moving along at our usual pace of a little over three 
miles an hour, gradually unwinding the crooks and turns of 
this serpentine river. To cheer and pass the time the bowsman 
as he breaks his set at the end of the push, and turns to walk 
to the bow, bursts forth into a merry song which breaks in 
echoes along the silent stream, each man marking time with 
his feet. In silence they reset their poles, push to the end, 
rise, and the whole crew break forth in a repetition of the line. 
Thus each line is sung to the end of the song. 

Wearied of this, for a time a dead silence ensues, there being 
heard only the set of the poles and tramp of feet along the 
walking boards. Steadily they set, push, and rise, and the 
boat glides along over this smooth and gentle stream appar- 
ently with little effort. But here we are at our camping 
ground, nearly forty miles from the Butte. 

Of the scenery I can say but little. It has a sameness not as 
pleasing as the lower Fox. Prairie and sparsely-timbered land, 
intermixed with the roll of the prairie on the east side, form in 
some places a grand spectacle. In a few places, where the 
river has made its way through the drift, there are bluffs of 
considerable height. We will try to reach Gleason's place on 
Lake Puckaway to-morrow, and another day and a half will 
put us at Fort Winnebago. 

Just as the sun is rising, the boat is ready, and all are aboard. 
More twists and turns and points deviate our course, and within 
a few miles we have steered to every point of the compass. On 
the introduction of the larger and longer boats we were obliged 
to cut away many of these points, for there was not room to 
turn the bends. We always carry shovels and picks for this 
purpose, and to remove the sand-bars that form. 

We will today pass an interesting point a few miles below 
Lake Puckaway — a hill of considerable elevation, at right angle 
with the river, forming a long narrow ridge, the north slope of 
which is an easy grade, the south side being steep. On the 
apex are two rows of mounds, each four of them forming a 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

square of seventy-five or a hundred feet. The north row be- 
gins with a mound two or three feet high ; to the east is another 
mound in exact line, a little larger than the first, and so on as 
far as I traced them, each succeeding mound increasing in size. 
The south row was in reverse order, diminishing in size going 
east, while the north row diminished running west, so that the 
four formed a square. 

Lake Puckaway is in view from this point — long, narrow, 
and shallow, overgrown in part with reeds and rushes, hence 
its name. At Gleason's place on the east side we will make 
a short stop, and then go on to Buffalo Lake through a narrow 
channel that connects the two lakes. This is difficult to pass 
by reason of the shallow water and the crooks and turns, but 
we will reach the head of Buffalo Lake to-night and camp. 
This lake is long and narrow with high, irregular banks, mostly 
of sand, especially at the foot of the lake. Our camp is at last 
reached after a long, weary push. "We are glad to rest and 

The morning opens bright and clear. Push on, all together. 
Here is Mud Lake ; well named, for there is nearly as much 
mud here as water. If the Fox is the crookedest river in Wis- 
consin, this lake has more mud to the square foot than all the 
other lakes in the Territory put together. Its bottom, if it has 
any, is far below the reach of our longest pole. We are obliged 
to use our oars to cross this reservoir of mud, until we can 
again find water and a bottom for our poles. 

The Fox turns and twists around these points and bends. 
We face the north, then the east, the south, and the west, and 
back again. But we are making progress now; there is the 
fort, the bends unwind, the points grow less, the river straight- 
ens, a few more shores and here is our landing. A small crowd 
greets us — the officers from the fort, the sutler, and a few 
settlers from the west side of the river. The arrival of a boat 
from Green Bay is quite an event for the residents of this 
place, who receive most of their supplies from our town. 

Fort Winnebago 

We will unload the boat and prepare for her passage down 
the river at the peep of dawn. Meanwhile the goods will 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

be checked and the necessary papers made out, so that there 
need be no delay. In preparing the boat for her return trip, 
a fireplace will be built of stones and turf in the middle of 
the craft, in which to do our cooking. Other little arrange- 
ments will also be made for our comfort, so that there will be 
no let or hindrance in our passage down. 

The Portage, or Fort Winnebago, is not a pleasant place as 
compared with many other locations on the Fox. The fort is 
built on a bluff on the east side, a short distance from the river 
fronting the south. The sutler's store is situated near the bank 
of the stream, not far from the fort. The shops and other 
necessary buildings are 1200 or 1500 feet south of the fort; 
the grounds, as is usual with army people, are kept neat and 
clean. A bridge connects the two sides, just below the sutler's 

Just above the fort the river makes a turn to the east, along 
the higher land on that side, leaving on the west the greater 
part of the low lands, or portage. On a bluff about a half mile 
from the river, west of and nearly opposite the fort, are situ- 
ated the Indian agency and the residences of some of the orig- 
inal settlers. This bluff sweeps around, trending to the west, 
until it strikes Wisconsin River about three miles southwest of 
the fort, forming a portaging place between the two rivers, 
Boats with their cargoes are portaged here on heavy wagons 
made for that purpose, and when launched on Wisconsin 
River make their way to Prairie du Chien or St. Louis. 

When in 1829 the United States rebuilt Fort Winnebago, 16 
contracts for building material were given out. Father took 
one to make and furnish all the brick, for he had all the im- 
plements used in brick-making, besides men skilled in the busi- 
ness. A year or two after the visit of Lafayette to the United 
States, father built a small-sized Durham boat which he named 
"Lafayette." She was a light, easy-running craft of from 
fifteen to twenty tons. This boat was loaded with brick-making 
tools and all necessaries, and with a crew of ten or twelve men 

19 The fort was built during the autumn of 1828; Arndt refers to 
the erection of additional and permanent buildings in 1829. See Wis. 
Hist. Colls., xiv, pp. 65-74. — Ed. 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

was sent to Fort Winnebago. I went along as a sort of super- 

It was in early June. The boat having a light load and a 
large crew ascended the rapids and in a few days reached Fort 
Winnebago. All arrangements for the work were soon made, 
and the place where the brick were to be made chosen — on the 
Wisconsin River about a mile and a half southwest of the fort. 
The work was well and quickly done under the superintendence 
of James Stewart from Ohio, whom father had employed for 
the purpose. The kiln could be seen for years thereafter. 

Return Voyage 

Early next morning we start on our downward way. The 
boat, being light, glides easily and swiftly along, and turns the 
points with ease. When we get through these short turns and 
have long reaches ahead, the wind being favorable, we shall 
make sail and push along faster. We should reach our camp 
of night before last by noon, and if the wind holds good, we 
may anticipate a fine sail through Mud and Buffalo lakes. 
This will continue down the outlet, most of the way into and 
through Lake Puckaway, until we enter the outlet or river where 
it takes a short turn to the west. There we will have to use 
our oars, unless the wind follows us around the bend. 

We have been making good progress during the night, both 
with oars and sail. If this wind holds good, which I hope 
and think it will, there will be less rowing and poling and more 
sailing, and tonight we shall sleep at Winnebago Rapids. It 
is nearly noon, and the progress we are making will take us 
to Big Butte des Morts by the stroke of twelve. Here we are 
on this beautiful lake, with "a free sheet and a following 
wind." Let her go free in the open sea. She is moving lively 
now, for the wind is stronger here and increasing. We have 
passed the Butte and the high lands, and the low lands are on 
either side. When we make and turn that point to the right, 
Lake Winnebago will be seen. 

The wind is stronger and more steady since we left the high 
lands and the shelter of the forest. We will keep the boat well 
out in the lake, to catch all the wind there is, and have a 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

freer sheet, for the wind will follow somewhat the trend of the 

We are now on the open sea, with a fair wind. The boat is 
moving along like a thing of life, throwing the water from her 
sides as she swiftly passes through it. The day is waning, but 
we have time yet to reach our camp if this wind holds, for 
there is Garlic Island to the left and abreast of us. We are 
measuring off the miles at a great rate. See how quickly we 
reach from point to point ; the last one, forming the outlet to 
the lake, and where we will camp, looms up and is growing 
nearer and more distinct every moment. Now we open the 
passage, and see the shores on either side. Starboard your 
helm, let go and haul the starboard sheet, luff. The boat turns 
the point and is safely moored for the night. 

Arise my brave crew ; one more effort on the home stretch 
and we will be there 'ere the sun sets. Cast off the lines, man 
the poles, give her to the current as it flows, and guide her 
straight from rock to rock. That was well done. These rapids 
are past, and here is Little Lake Butte des Morts. The wind is 
fair, hoist the sail and let her go. 

Here is the Grand Encampment. Take in the sail and lower 
the mast, for we cannot jump the Chute and rapids with it 
standing; it might give us some trouble. Make everything 
ready and take the poles; we will push her down to the Chute, 
jump it, and let the swift-running water do the rest, except 
to guide and keep the boat parallel with the current. 

Here she goes. The current has got the boat within its grasp ; 
she is driven ahead on nearly a level keel more than a third 
her length before the bow dips to the incline below and makes 
the plunge. It is done so quickly and her motion is so rapid that 
you can hardly realize what has taken place before you find 
yourself a mile below the Chute and still going on at a railroad 
speed. If well done, it is grand and exciting and attended with 
but little danger. 

We pass down, until we come to Grignon's (or the upper) 
landing. A little below this we strike the main rapids. The 
river is here contracted by an island on the east or south side. 
It is said that there is a fall here of nearly forty feet in a little 
over a mile. In one place the boat makes three tremendous 
plunges in succession. As she shoots along on the crest of the 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

wave, the bow rises as she goes; when the crest is about mid- 
ship, up goes the stern and the bow plunges into the foaming 
water ahead, throwing the spray clear to the stern of the boat. 
Thus three times she rises and plunges through this tumult of 
water, each time increasing her speed, which is fearful to see. 
The last blow given to these troubled waters was more terrific 
than the first; it made the boat tremble from stem to stern, 
but she recovers and glides along to more tranquil water. Thus 
we pass the rapids of the Grand Kaukauna to the still water 
below, where we hoist the sail and pass on down to Green Bay. 
The trip which I have here described was made in twelve days 
— nine days on the upward journey and three on the return, 
besides some night work, using the sail on the return journey 
whenever possible. The distance from Green Bay to Fort Win- 
nebago is 160 miles, which gives us about eighteen miles a day 
on the upward trip, and fifty-four or fifty-five on the return, 
including the night work. The distance travelled on the round 
trip (320 miles) makes an average of nearly twenty-seven miles 
per day during the long days of June. 

The Durham monopolizes Traffic 

After its introduction, the Durham boat was in constant use 
on Pox River between Green Bay and Fort Winnebago, and 
was some times used on Wisconsin River as far as Prairie du 
Chien, and even to Galena. It drove the French batteaux almost 
entirely out of use, as it carried a larger load and required fewer 
men to handle it. From the year 1825 until the completion 
of the improvement of Fox River, it was the usual means of 
transportation on that river. 

As the business increased, more boats were built and improved. 
The open uncovered space between forward and after decks was 
housed with a strong but light frame, covered with a double 
course of half-inch pine boards, securely nailed and painted, 
the sides enclosed with adjustable shutters of the same material, 
making a dry comfortable cabin for either freight or passengers. 
Still other changes and improvements were introduced. The 
larger boats when completed and fully equipped for use, cost 
about a thousand dollars. To save their wear and tear in the 
rapids, smaller ones were built, something like the batteaux but 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

with more beam and lower sides, whose tonnage was about a 
third of the larger boats and their cost much less. They were 
used in the rapids between Grand Kaukauna and Grand Chute, 
and were found to save both time and money. One set of the 
Durhams was used between Green Bay and Kaukauna, and an- 
other set between the Grand Chute and Fort Winnebago. The 
small boats were used exclusively until the road was finished, 
when the greater part of the goods were hauled from Kaukauna 
to the Chute by teams. This lessened the time in the rapids and 
the cost of transportation. 

Three lines of boats competed for the business, so the price 
of the work was lowered and the profits lessened. Father could 
stand this competition better than those who were new in the 
business. He built his own boats, and in every respect was better 
equipped in men and material from his long experience in their 
use. Several parties tried the experiment of building their own 
boats, but did not succeed very well, for their craft proved to 
be too heavy and logy, being badly built. 

Daniel Whitney, who had purchased several boats from father, 
thought he could build them cheaper himself. He found and 
hired a man from somewhere on the Mississippi, who said he 
knew all there was to know about the Durham boat. He set 
him to work at his ashery at the Grand Kaukauna, and began 
to collect the material. 

Lumber was plenty and easy to get, but the iron work was 
another thing, especially the spike. Good blacksmiths were 
scarce. Father had a shop and blacksmith helper and had the 
blacksmithing done for his own boats. Mr. Whitney applied to him 
to do the work and make the spikes and bolts. The new boat 
builder had whittled out a pattern of a spike, about four inches 
long and % of an inch wide, a perfect wedge with a head on. 
Father at once said: "Mr. Whitney, that boat will never go up 
Fox River; that shaped spike will split every plank and timber 
in which you attempt to drive it, or if you use a bit large enough 
to drive without splitting it will leave a leak; and besides it 
will not hold the planking in their place without clinching. 
Your man is no boat builder, no mechanic, and your boat will be 
a failure." 

Mr. Whitney was somewhat set in his way, and no argument 


Pioneers and Durham Boats on Fox River 

could induce him to change the shape of the spikes, so they were 
made as ordered and the result was as predicted. 

The following spring the boat was launched after much 
trouble and expense. Mr. Whitney was by this time convinced 
that the boat was a failure as far as navigating the rapids of the 
upper Fox ; she was too heavy, for a third more lumber was used 
than was necessary. She drew six or eight inches more amid- 
ship than she did before or after, besides other defects in her 
construction. He concluded if she would not do for the rapids 
and upper Fox he would take her to Navarino and make 
a wood and lumber raft of her. He put a big crew aboard and 
started down the rapids. After much time and hard work they 
got the boat below the Croche, but stuck her fast about half 
way between the Croche and "Wrightstown, where she remained 
several weeks before they attempted to move her again. The 
bad construction of the boat and the hard knocks she received 
in going over the Grand Kaukauna, started the calking from the 
seams and made her leak badly. In course of time they got 
her to the Bay, fixed her up, and sent her to Duck Creek for 
a load of wood. The next morning after being loaded, she 
again sank, and this was, if I recollect rightly, her last trip. 

The introduction of the Durham boat was a novelty to 
the people residing on the Fox. They declared at first that it 
would be an impossibility to force that big boat with its great 
load up and through the rapids ; it would take lots of men and 
weeks to make the trip to the Portage. Better use the French 
batteau, to which they had long been accustomed. At the first 
trial of the boat they w r ere dissuaded of their hereditary belief 
by the ease with which she passed along with her great load, 
and by the power and control that each man had with the 
shoulder, where his whole muscular strength as well as his 
weight could be applied. The small hand-pole used on the 
French batteaux had brought into play only muscles of the 
arms. The change of opinion was sudden. The Durham moved 
more easily through the water, we were not so tired when the day's 
work was done, even though we had shoved the big boat with a 
load — three times greater than that of the batteaux, more than 
thirty miles each day after clearing the rapids. Even on the 
upper Fox, because of her peculiar build she moved more easily 
than the batteau. 

15 [ 219 ] 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

The crews were mostly made up of men born in Canada, who 
at an early age had enlisted in the service of the American Fur 
Company for a term of from five to ten years where their wages 
were low, and their food corn and tallow, eked out with the 
products of the chase. After completing their term of service, 
many of these men remained in the Green Bay settlement, soon 
married either a squaw or a woman of mixed blood, and large 
families were the result. The boys, as they grew to manhood, 
followed the pursuit of their fathers, or entered the transporta- 
tion business, and made up the crews. 

Recently a Prairie du Chien paper noted the death of Alex- 
ander Gardapie, an old voyageur, ninety years of age. He was 
one of the members of my favorite crew. He had been born and 
raised on a farm on the west side of the Fox, north of and ad- 
joining that now owned by Isaac Dickey. Note the age at which 
he died, indicating the vigorous hold he had on life. This is 
but a sample of that once efficient crew and the men who com- 
posed it. Many of them lived to four-score years and beyond. 


Territorial Supreme Court 

The Supreme Court of Wisconsin 
Territory 1 

By Robert George Siebecker 

The act of Congress establishing the territorial government 
of Wisconsin, in 1836, provided for a territorial court of three 
judges, to whom was committed the high function of forming 
the system of civil courts designed by the general government, 
and of executing judicial power for a people who had thereto- 
fore lived in the free and unregulated state of primitive times. 
Under this act the president of the United States appointed 
Charles Dunn of Illinois, 2 David Irvin of Virginia, 3 and William 
C. Frazier of Pennsylvania 4 to constitute this tribunal. On 
July 4, 1836, the territorial government officers subscribed the 
oath of office at Mineral Point. The judges of this court did 
likewise and thus took the first step to establish courts for the 
infant territory of Wisconsin. The court first met to hold 
a session at tins place, Belmont, on December of the same year. 
The executive and legislative departments of the territorial gov- 
ernment had theretofore located here and legislative activities 
had been begun in a session commencing October 25, 1836. At 
this first session of the court Chief-Justice Dunn and Associate- 

1 Address delivered by Mr. Justice Siebecker of the Supreme Court 
of the State of Wisconsin at the unveiling of the tablet erected by the 
Wisconsin Federation of Women's Clubs on October 7, 1912, on the site 
of the first territorial capitol of Wisconsin at Leslie (formerly Bel- 
mont) in Lafayette County. — Ed. 

' See estimate by Martin in Wis. Hist. Colls., xi, p. 408. — Ed. 

•Sketched by Draper in Id, vi, p. 379; see also Proceedings, 1911, pp. 
182-186.— Ed. 

« See Wis. Hist. Colls., i, pp. 127-130.— Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

Justice Irvin were present and participated in the formal or- 
ganization of the court by appointing a clerk, administering the 
oath of office to Henry S. Baird as territorial attorney-general, 
and admitting a number of persons to practice before the court ; 
but no litigated matter was presented. The court adjourned 
and designated Madison as the place where it would convene in 
July of the following year, and there all subsequent meetings 
of the court have been held. These are the few and simple 
annals that tell the beginnings of the judicial history of the 
people inhabiting the beautiful and expansive domain of our 

Turning our view further backward to the remote beginnings of 
white settlement in this territory, there arises in our minds a 
picture of the condition of a primitive wilderness abounding in 
all the natural resources that are needed to supply the wants 
of an enlightened people, awaiting only the skillful hand of 
man to convert them to his beneficial use. The people who 
undertook this great task well knew that this could be accom- 
plished only under a well regulated society through the orderly 
processes of civil government, which would protect life and 
person, and secure to everyone the fruits of their labors and the 
blessings of their homes. To aid in accomplishing this was the 
high function of the courts as a branch of civil government. 
The social conditions that then existed, practically imposed on 
the inhabitants the necessity of employing individual power td 
protect themselves in their personal and property affairs, since 
the situation only admitted of an imperfect administration of 
law among the few and widely separated inhabitants. 

Prior to 1823, judicial transactions of a minor character were 
confined to the local courts, before justices of the peace, and 
obviously they were administered in an irregular and desultory 
manner under the prevailing crude and unorganized conditions. 
All civil and criminal matters of a graver nature were under 
the law tried in the supreme court of the territory at Detroit, 
Michigan. This necessarily compelled the people to forego a 
resort to the courts for the enforcement of legal rights, on ac- 
count of the great distances and lack of highways, as well as 
the other hardships and cost of travel. In 1823, Congress re- 
moved these difficulties in part by providing for an additional 
judge for that part of Michigan Territory lying west of Lake 


Territorial Supreme Court 

Michigan. James Duane Doty, then twenty-four years of age, 
was appointed to this office, and continued in this service until 
1832, when he resigned and was succeeded by David Irvin, who 
remained in office until the organization of the Wisconsin terri- 
torial government in 183G. 

Until 1827 the appointed places for holding this court were at 
Green Bay, Brown County, and at Prairie du Chien, Crawford 
County ; but at that time a change was made from the latter place 
to Mineral Point, Iowa. County. Little is specifically known of 
the conduct of judicial transactions during these years. The 
tradition is, that the court met the needs of the community in 
a practical way, under the peculiar exigencies and occasions of 
the time, though its procedure for enforcing its mandates as 
an instrumentality of justice and social order was characterized 
at times by novel and unusual methods. It may be prob- 
lematical whether or not a regular and orderly procedure, ap- 
propriate to an old and established community, would have been 
suitable to an efficient enforcement of law under the conditions 
of those early days. 

Transgressions against the security of life and limb were by 
force of circumstances dealt with in a summary way, in order 
to restrain offenders from violations of the peace and good 
order. Under these circumstances the power conferred by the 
Ordinance of 1787, to promulgate civil and criminal law, could 
not readily be executed, for an employment of orderly proced- 
ure in the customary ways was materially hampered and re- 
stricted by the prevailing primitive state of affairs. Nor were 
the territorial judges and officers supplied with means to pro- 
mulgate and enforce a system of procedure such as pre- 
vailed in older states and which had been evolved under more 
favorable conditions. 

It is manifest that this new court began its activities in an 
environment devoid of the influences that had shaped the law 
of more thickly-settled and well-governed communities. The 
rapid increase in population after 1830 in the mineral-pro- 
ducing region and in the organized counties where the public 
domain was open for sale and entry, brought about the need for 
an efficient local self government to protect the various interests 
growing out of new and flourishing enterprises. The terri- 
torial courts, which constituted the pioneer institutions in the 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

judicial history of our State, were established to meet this de- 
mand. Though the period during which they flourished was 
but brief, their influence gave birth to a system of courts that 
has maintained and promoted the peace and prosperity of the 
people of our State to this day. 

Progress in establishing a system of law and courts appropri- 
ate to the necessities of the times was much accelerated by a 
rapidly-growing population and its expanding commerce and 
industry. As the people learned to know the possibilities of 
their surroundings, they framed laws which sprang from their 
necessities and from their aspirations for and ideals of freedom 
and self-government. Since their industry, commerce, and hus- 
bandry were undeveloped and engrossed their attention, it is nat- 
ural that they developed a sense of responsibility pertaining 
to individual affairs rather than those concerned with public 
interests. We should therefore expect that the courts would 
devote their labors to protecting the private rights and inter- 
ests of the people. This is manifest from their records, which 
show that they were principally occupied in redressing wrongs 
and enforcing rights of this nature. The environment and life 
of the people worked for simplicity and practically in the 
affairs of life. The spirit of actuality was potent in the ad- 
ministration of the law and became infused into its fabric. It 
was effective in suppressing useless ceremonial and conventional 
practices which served no useful purpose. This spirit tended 
to the adoption of the customs and usages of the times as the 
best means for the enforcement of the moral rules on a level 
with the people's practical ethical sense. 

The ideas and practices infused into our law by these early 
courts has continued to mould the jurisprudence of our State 
and made it receptive to such changes and improvements as 
the progress of the people has demanded. We cannot doubt that 
these conditions were influential in developing the ideas and 
sentiments which found expression in our State constitution 
and our system of law and courts. Among the effective causes 
creating these favorable conditions was the sentiment of a com- 
mon purpose, which later became operative, to promote the good 
of the people as a whole. This is a powerful incentive to aid 
in the building of a system of jurisprudence promotive of the 
common good. It tends to prevent the adoption of partial and 


Territorial Supreme Court 

technical regulations, regardless of their fitness to serve indi- 
vidual and public interests, and serves to foster practical 

The part pla} r ed by the early judges materially aided the 
conditions favorable to the enactment of good laws and promotive 
of the fortunes of our people. Inspired by their conception of 
natural justice, the people's enthusiasm for good government 
received expression by them in a liberal and practical admin- 
istration of the law. That these influences were an effective 
agency, influencing their judicial action, is shown with 
remarkable clearness and force as we study the course of the 
events that resulted in the formation of the people's institutions 
and laws. It promoted the spirit for improvement in legal pro- 
cedure, culminated in the adoption of our code at an early day 
in the history of our State, and led to many reforms which 
simplified the law and accommodated it to the actual needs for 
a practical regulation of affairs, thereby developing among the 
people a respect for law which has been most potent in inspiring 
faith in their government as an agency under which they might 
secure the blessings of liberty and enjoy the fruits of their toil. 

I rejoice that the power of this influence is not spent and that 
it operates today among our people to maintain a respect for 
government and to check the disdain for law and order which 
breeds the spirit that incites men to destroy their most benefi- 
cent institutions. It helps to keep before us the ideal of a sys- 
tem of laws which will further our best interests and protect us 
in the things we cherish as most sacred in life. 

The achievements of our pioneer courts are an assurance that 
the judges composing them were men of probity and intelligence 
and of original and constructive thought. Of the three original 
appointees, Judge Frazier died October 18, 1838. It is said of 
him: "His career in Wisconsin was so brief and unimportant 
that but little is now remembered of it beyond the anecdotes 
found in the published Collections of the Wisconsin Historical 
Society, except that which is in a great degree traditional." 
Andrew G. Miller of Pennsylvania was appointed his successor. 5 
As so constituted, these appointees held office until the organiz- 
ation of the State government in 1848. The history of their 

•For a biographical sketch see Id, vii, p. 463. — Ed. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

services shows that they were men of high judicial integrity 
and that they were impelled by an earnest fidelity and zeal to 
administer exact and equal justice. Their strong natural abil- 
ities and large capacities had been improved by training and cul- 
ture. They fitted well into a generation in the legal profession 
when men stood on the solid ground of their individual power, 
and they were characterized by resolution and forcefulness. In 
their knowledge of men and things they were broad, and they 
dealt considerately with every class of the people • in all their 
varying relations and interests. A knowledge of the wide range 
of affairs and conditions of their day, coupled with their pro- 
fessional learning, enlarged their views of life and cultivated in 
them the sagacity of men of the world. They stood in high 
esteem with members of the legal profession and the people, for 
their social virtues and for their devotion to a faithful discharge 
of their high official duties. Their lives and work justify the 
belief that they did much to promote the highest good of the 
people of this State, and as pioneers of civilization in this great 
Northwest contributed much to the wholesome influences that 
impart a respect for law and government. 

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